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Introduction:

As we age, our bodies undergo various changes, including a decline in hormone production. Hormones play a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. One area where hormone imbalances can have a significant impact is cardiovascular health. In recent years, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) has gained attention for its potential cardiovascular benefits. In this post we will explore the role of BHRT in promoting cardiovascular health and its potential benefits.

Understanding Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy:

Bio-identical hormones are derived from natural sources, such as plants, and are structurally identical to the hormones produced naturally in our bodies. BHRT aims to restore hormone levels to those found in our youth, helping to alleviate symptoms associated with hormone imbalances. While BHRT can address a range of concerns, its potential cardiovascular benefits are particularly noteworthy.

Cardiovascular Benefits of BHRT:

  1. Improved Heart Health: Estrogen, a hormone predominantly found in women, plays a vital role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that BHRT can help improve cardiovascular function by reducing the risk of heart disease, decreasing arterial plaque formation, and improving blood flow. According to the American College of obstetricians and gynecologists(ACOG) in their June 2013 committee opinion “Clinical evidence accumulated over two decades, has suggested that women who take estrogen plus progesterone hormone therapy or estrogen, therapy alone gain protection against coronary heart disease(CHD).”
  2. Enhanced Cholesterol Profile: Hormonal imbalances, such as low levels of estrogen or testosterone, can negatively impact cholesterol levels. BHRT can help restore hormonal balance, leading to improved cholesterol profiles. This includes raising levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while decreasing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular events. Denke M. A.,in their 1995 report, effects of continuous combined hormone-replacement therapy on lipid levels in hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women, in the American journal of medicine, states continuous combined hormone-replacement therapy can produce significant and therapeutic reductions in LDL cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women.
  3. Blood Pressure Regulation: Imbalances in hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can contribute to high blood pressure. BHRT can help regulate blood pressure by restoring hormonal balance and improving vascular reactivity, reducing the risk of hypertension and related cardiovascular complications. “The exact way to which estrogen influences blood pressure is still being widely studied however, in both animal and human models, estrogen has shown to induce vasodilation (dilate blood vessels) by increasing the amount of nitric oxide being produced and as a result, can aid in the prevention of vasoconstriction (narrowing of the arteries) which is very much correlated to elevation in blood pressure.”(Dubey, R. K., Oparil, S., Imthurn, B., & Jackson, E. K. (2002). Sex hormones and hypertension. Cardiovascular research, 53(3), 688–708. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0008-6363(01)00527-2).
    Controversially, a study by Wren et al. (1981), shows synthetic preparations of estrogen have been shown to increase blood pressure in women who would have otherwise, had healthy blood pressure. It was reported four months after ceasing the synthetic preparations, blood pressure normalized.
  4. Reduced Inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease. BHRT can help combat inflammation by restoring hormonal balance, reducing the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, and promoting a healthier inflammatory response. In their 2013 report, Stephenson, K., Neuenschwander, P. F., & Kurdowska, A. K., The effects of compounded bioidentical transdermal hormone therapy on hemostatic, inflammatory, immune factors; cardiovascular biomarkers; quality-of-life measures; and health outcomes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. International journal of pharmaceutical compounding, 17(1), 74–85., conclude, cardiovascular biomarkers, inflammatory factors, immune signaling factors, and health outcomes were favorably impacted, despite very high life stress, and home and work strain in study subjects. The therapy did not adversely alter the net prothrombotic potential, and there were no associated adverse events. This model of care warrants consideration as an effective and safe clinical therapy for peri/postmenopausal women especially in populations with high perceived stress and a history of stressful life events prior to, or during the menopausal transition.”
  5. Prevention of Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of arteries, is a common precursor to heart disease. BHRT has shown promise in preventing and slowing down the progression of atherosclerosis by maintaining the elasticity of blood vessels, improving endothelial function, and reducing oxidative stress. Howard et.al (2001)reports “the average rate of progression of subclinical atherosclerosis was slower in healthy postmenopausal women taking unopposed ERT with 17β-estradiol than in women taking placebo. Reduction in the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis was seen in women who did not take lipid-lowering medication but not in those who took these medications.”. Howard N. Hodis, Wendy J. Mack, Roger A. Lobo, et al; for the Estrogen in the Prevention of Atherosclerosis Trial Research Group*. Estrogen in the Prevention of Atherosclerosis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.

Conclusion

Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is as a potential tool for promoting cardiovascular health, and warrants further investigation, whether or not, its potential benefits could be right for you. By restoring hormonal balance, BHRT improves cardiovascular function, reduces the risk of heart disease, decreases arterial plaque formation, and improves blood flow.

BHRT improves cholesterol profiles, increasing the “good” cholesterol while decreasing the “bad” cholesterol, and improves triglyceride levels. BHRT improves vascular reactivity, reducing the risk of hypertension and related cardiovascular complications.

BHRT reduces the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, and promotes a healthier inflammatory response. And lastly, but not least BHRT prevents and slows the progression of atherosclerosis as it maintains the elasticity of blood vessels, improves endothelial function, and reduces oxidative stress.

In conclusion, Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) has shown promising benefits on cardiovascular health. By restoring hormone balance with hormones that are structurally identical to those produced by the body, BHRT may help improve lipid profiles, reduce inflammation, and enhance vascular function. These positive effects can potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if BHRT is appropriate for individual circumstances and to ensure proper monitoring and dosage adjustments. With the appropriate use and monitoring, BHRT may offer a valuable option for promoting cardiovascular health and overall well-being.