Heart disease, Menopause

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Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:
How does menopause affect your chances of heart attack if you already have heart disease?

Doctor's Response:
Menopause is associated with multiple heart-threatening events. These include gradual increases in cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes risk. It is still being debated if these changes are due to age itself, versus menopause itself, or perhaps a combination. While there is no established evidence that menopause in a woman with known heart disease can worsen her heart disease, because of the above changes in many heart risks, women with known heart disease might theoretically be expected to have worsening of heart risk with the menopause transition.

There is currently much controversy regarding initiation of HRT in women who already have heart disease. Most doctors believe that women with heart disease who are already taking HRT would not stop their HRT, and that women with known heart disease who are not taking HRT should not newly being taking HRT. This is pending the Women's Health Initiative and other research trials currently in progress, the results of which should be available in the near future.

Thank you for your question.

Medical Author: Carolyn Janet Crandall, M.D.
Medical Editor: William Shiel, MD, FACP, FACR

Last Editorial Review: 8/13/2002

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