If you are in your 40s, you probably have considered undergoing hormone replacement therapy. As you reach menopause age which is usually between 45 to 55, you experience symptoms such as sexual pain, night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness and more. This forces women to give more serious consideration to hormone replacement therapy option.
Just a few years ago, almost every woman who went through menopause was automatically given a prescription for estrogen along with progestin (a female hormone). HRT was a standard treatment to alleviate the symptoms of menopause.
However, over the years, there have been major health concerns raised about Hormone Replacement Therapy and its potential risks to women’s heart.
Is hormone replacement therapy safe for heart?
How are cardiovascular diseases associated with menopause?
- Estrogen helps in protecting a woman’s body against cardiovascular diseases.
- Menopause can bring changes in the walls of blood vessels which can cause blood clots and plaque.
- It can also cause changes in the level of fats (lipids) in the blood.
- It also increases fibrinogen (a substance that is responsible for causing blood clots). An increase in fibrinogen is directly associated with heart disease and stroke.
Potential risks of HRT
If you are having a lot of difficulty dealing with the symptoms of menopause, talk with your doctor about HRT option. After examining your condition, your doctor will be able to tell you how it will affect your heart.
These are few points to keep in mind before considering HRT option:
- HRT does not pose a huge risk of heart disease to a woman taking HRT – If a woman is in her early menopause, and does not experience severe symptoms, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy outweigh heart risks associated with it.
- There are many factors that contribute to developing heart disease from HRT such as lifestyle practices, personal medical history and family medical history – consult with a doctor and discuss about your medical history. If you’re not prone to developing a heart disease, and have severe menopausal symptoms, HRT is the best option.
- Potential heart risks vary for women with premature ovarian failure or premature menopause – If you’ve reached menopause before 40 or somehow had ovarian problem, you are prone to a different set of cardiovascular disease in comparison to women with normal menopause. You are also more prone to developing coronary heart disease. Moreover, if you’ve had ovarian failure, you will be given HRT to prevent heart diseases.
Cardiovascular disease is no longer a man’s disease. It is, in fact, a leading cause of deaths in women who are above 50 years in the United States. When a woman reaches her menopause, her risk for developing heart disease increases. The risk is even higher in young women who went through surgical or early menopause particular when combined with other diseases like:
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of heart disease
- Low HDL (high density lipoproteins) cholesterol, sometimes called “good” cholesterol
- Elevated LDL (low density lipoproteins) cholesterol
Around 5 to 10% of women who undergo hormone replacement therapy experience few side effects such as mood swings, fluid retention and breasts tenderness. However, these side effects are often mild and do not cause any problem.
If you think the side effects are not mild and causing problem, talk to your doctor. The doctor can change the dosage and type of estrogen or progestin prescribed to you to reduce the side effects.
Heart disease is an extremely common disease in women who are above 50 years or have reached menopause. Among women in the United States, 1 in every 3 deaths is caused by cardiovascular or heart disease. Most healthy women at menopause can safe undergo HRT for alleviating the symptoms of menopause and reducing the risk of heart diseases.