Cardiovascular health and the menopausal woman: The role of estrogen and when to begin and end hormone treatment.

Frederick Naftolin, Jenna Friedenthal, Richard Nachtigall, Lila Nachtigall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Reports have correlated the use of estrogen for the treatment of menopausal symptoms with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. Molecular, biochemical, preclinical, and clinical studies have furnished a wealth of evidence in support of this outcome of estrogen action. The prospective randomized Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and the Early Versus Late Intervention Trial (ELITE) showed that starting menopausal hormone treatment (MHT) within 5 to 10 years of menopause is fundamental to the success of estrogen’s cardioprotection in post-menopausal women without adverse effects. Age stratification of the WHI data has shown that starting hormone treatment within the first decade after menopause is both safe and effective, and the long-term WHI follow-up studies are supportive of cardioprotection. This is especially true in estrogen-treated women who underwent surgical menopause. A critique of the WHI and other relevant studies is presented, supporting that the timely use of estrogens protects against age-and hormone-related cardiovascular complications. Salutary long-term hormone treatment for menopausal symptoms and prevention of complications has been widely reported, but there are no prospective trials defining the correct length to continue MHT. At present, women undergoing premature menopause receive estrogen treatment (ET) until evidence of hormone-related complications intervenes. Normal women started on MHT who receive treatment for decades without hormone-related complications have been reported, and the WHI follow-up studies are promising of long-term post-treatment cardioprotection. A prevention-based holistic approach is proposed for timely and continuing MHT/ET administration as part of the general management of the menopausal woman. But this should be undertaken only with scheduled, annual patient visits including evaluations of cardiovascular status. Because of the continued occurrence of reproductive cancers well into older ages, these visits should include genital and breast cancer screening.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1576
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardioprotection
  • Estradiol
  • Estrogen
  • Heart disease
  • Menopause
  • Timing Hypothesis


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