Influence of Hormone Therapy on Cardiovascular Responses to Stress in Postmenopausal Women

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Reproductive hormones, Hormone therapy, Cardiovascular responses, Stress, Women

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Epidemiological and psychophysiological data suggest that groups that differ in reproductive hormones and stress responses also differ in risk for cardiovascular disease. To evaluate the effects of hormone therapy on women's cardiovascular responses to laboratory stressors, 89 healthy postmenopausal women were tested twice, before and after exposure for about 8 weeks to one of the five conditions: placebo, Estratab (primarily estrone), Estratab plus Prometrium (micronized progesterone), Estratab plus Provera (synthetic progestin), and Estratest (same estrogen as in Estratab plus methyltestosterone). Results showed that women assigned to Estratab plus Prometrium and Estratest had diminished systolic blood pressure responses to stress upon retesting, whereas the other groups did not change in the level of their responses. Women assigned to Estratab plus Prometrium had diminished diastolic blood pressure responses during a speech stressor upon retesting, whereas women assigned to Estratab plus Provera increased. Our findings show that hormone therapy does affect women's stress responses, but they do not provide a simple explanation as to why groups at high and low risk for cardiovascular disease differ in reproductive hormones and stress responses.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Biological Psychology, v. 69, issue 1, p. 39-56