The Effect of Perimenopausal Transdermal Estradiol and Micronized Progesterone on Markers of Risk for Arterial Disease.
BACKGROUND: The arterial effects of hormone therapy remain controversial. This study tested the effects of transdermal estradiol plus intermittent micronized progesterone (TE + IMP) in healthy perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women on several mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of arterial disease. METHODS: Healthy perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women, ages 45 to 60 years, were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Women were randomized to receive TE (0.1 mg/day) + IMP (200 mg/day for 12 days) or identical placebo patches and pills for 12 months. Outcomes included: change in stress reactivity composite z-score (combining inflammatory, cortisol, and hemodynamic responses to a standardized psychological laboratory stressor); flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery (an index of vascular endothelial function); baroreflex sensitivity; and metabolic risk (presence of the metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance), all assessed at baseline and at months 6 and 12. RESULTS: Of 172 women enrolled, those assigned to TE + IMP tended to have higher resting baroreflex sensitivity than those assigned to placebo across the 6- and 12-month visits. Although treatment groups did not differ in terms of the other prespecified outcomes, a significant treatment-by-age interaction was found for FMD and stress reactivity such that an age-related decrease in FMD and increase in stress reactivity were seen among women assigned to placebo but not those assigned to TE + IMP. Women on TE + IMP also had lower resting diastolic blood pressure, lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and higher baroreflex sensitivity during stress testing. CONCLUSIONS: TE + IMP tended to improve cardiac autonomic control and prevented age-related changes in stress reactivity and endothelial function among healthy perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women.
Gordon, JL; Rubinow, DR; Watkins, L; Hinderliter, AL; Caughey, MC; Girdler, SS
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