Hormone Therapy and Heart Disease in Women

Medical Author Revision: Dennis Lee, M.D.
Medical Editor: Carolyn Janet Crandall, MD, MS, FACP

After menopause, the production of estrogen by the ovaries gradually diminishes over several years. Along with this reduction, there is an increase in LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and a small decrease in HDL ("good" cholesterol). These changes in lipid levels are believed to be one of the reasons for the increased risks of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) after menopause. Women who have had their ovaries surgically removed (oophorectomy) or experience an early menopause also have an accelerated risk of CHD.