Portland, OR, June 25, 2008 – Heart disease is the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability among women in the United States. Diagnosing and effectively treating heart disease is more difficult in women than men. Four prominent scientists, writing in the July issue of Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine, have called upon the medical community to reconsider and fully explore the benefits of progesterone treatment of menopausal women who suffer from cardiac chest pain and sleep disturbances.
Until recently, many women used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help reduce their risk of heart disease. But when the outcomes of large randomized clinical trials failed to demonstrate cardiac benefits, women and their physicians abandoned HRT. In fact, current medical practice guidelines advise against HRT for the purpose of reducing cardiovascular (CV) risk in post-menopausal women.
Lead author Dr. Kent Hermsmeyer asserts that, “it is important to remember that the hormone replacement therapy rejected by these landmark studies did not involve use of progesterone; most HRT involves use of a synthetic progestin called medroxyprogesterone acetate, which does not exhibit the heart protective effects offered by progesterone. Rather than simply rejecting all steroid hormone supplement therapies, it is time to consider what is known and what is not known in the research reported to date.”
The investigators correctly predicted that progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone, plays an important role in reducing CV risk in post-menopausal women. They contend that the apparent blanket condemnation of steroid hormones has not sufficiently distinguished between the CV actions of progesterone and the synthetic progestin that was used in HRT.
The article cites the mounting evidence that progesterone improves CV function and proposes how it improves heart health and well being. It also points out that the route of administration is key, and that delivering progesterone in a cream that is applied to the skin is a safe, effective way to help women reduce CV risk, relieve chest pain, and improve the quality of their sleep.
Theresa L. Thompson, PhD
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