Posted on Mar 12, 2018, 9 p.m.
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have conducted a study which suggests that women who use menopausal hormone therapy treatment appear to have a heart structure and function that is linked to a lower risk of heart failure, as published in PLOS ONE.
Menopausal hormone therapy effects on cardiovascular health in menopausal women has been controversial and unclear. Data has suggested that menopausal hormone therapy has protective effect on the heart which lead to menopausal hormone therapy routinely being prescribed for the prevention of heart disease, additional studies to confirm this have had varied results.
Researchers analyzed data collected from over 500,000 individuals in a UK Biobank which holds a database of health questionnaire data, physical measurements, and biological samples, including cardiovascular MRI data which may help to overcome the lack of detailed data of the effects of menopausal hormone therapy on cardiovascular health. Gaining a greater understanding of the effects of menopausal hormone therapy on heart health is important as there are over 2.3 million women using menopausal hormone therapy treatment in the UK alone with current evidence of the effects being controversial and conflicted.
According to the researchers with their findings they have been able to show the use of menopausal hormone therapy is not associated with any adverse changes to heart function and structure, and may be associated with some healthier heart characteristics.
1,604 post-menopausal women participated in this study who were free of known cardiovascular disease of which 32% had been using menopausal hormone therapy for at least 3 years, who had their left ventricular and left atrial structure and function examined by the researchers. It was found in this study that menopausal hormone therapy use was not associated with adverse changes in cardiac function and structure. Smaller LA and LV chamber volumes were observed which have been linked to favourable cardiovascular outcomes which include lower risk of heart failure and mortality. LV mass was also looked at, with increases to LV mass predicting a higher incidence of cardiovascular events and mortality, with no significant difference found between the LV mass between the 2 groups of women.
Menopausal hormone therapy treatment effects on heart health is still unclear, with research showing both negative and positive effects on the heart health. Researchers say that this study helps to add to the understanding by suggesting that the treatment does have positive effects giving reassurance to women taking menopausal hormone therapy treatment. This study does not consider all the ways this therapy affects cardiovascular health, which means more research is still need to gain more complete knowledge.
Women should not take menopausal hormone therapy specifically to improve heart health due to the effects not being fully known. However for most menopausal women the benefits of taking menopausal hormone therapy outweigh any potential risks, especially to women under the age of 60. Each woman’s situation is unique, so it is recommended to speak to a GP to find out if menopausal hormone therapy is appropriate before beginning treatment.
Materials provided by Queen Mary University of London.
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Mihir M. Sanghvi, Nay Aung, Jackie A. Cooper, José Miguel Paiva, Aaron M. Lee, Filip Zemrak, Kenneth Fung, Ross J. Thomson, Elena Lukaschuk, Valentina Carapella, Young Jin Kim, Nicholas C. Harvey, Stefan K. Piechnik, Stefan Neubauer, Steffen E. Petersen. The impact of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) on cardiac structure and function: Insights from the UK Biobank imaging enhancement study. PLOS ONE, 2018; 13 (3): e0194015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194015