HRT Protects Against Peripheral Artery Disease

Hormone replacement therapy significantly reduces the incidence of peripheral artery disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) News about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) continues to evolve. New findings suggest it to be protective against peripheral artery disease (PAD) when postmenopausal women take it.

A new study presented at the 65th Vascular Annual Meeting of the Society of Vascular Surgery found that HRT in postmenopausal women is associated with a reduction in the prevalence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), even when the women had other risk factors to develop PAD. 

"Women taking HRT are less likely to develop peripheral artery disease."

Caron B. Rockman, MD, vascular and endovascular surgeon reports that this data has important implications regarding a possible protective effect of HRT on atherosclerotic conditions. This is of particular importance for the women who are more prone to develop atherosclerotic condition because of other lifestyle choices or conditions they have.

Initially, researchers were gathering information to create a prospective database of patients who were both postmenopausal and undergoing vascular screening.  Then, a questionnaire was dispersed to see how many were using HRT. All patients were then screened via charts for peripheral artery disease. PAD was diagnosed if their ankle-brachial index (a measure of vascular health) was less or equal to 0.9.

Dr. Rockman reports that a significant effect of HRT on the prevalence for PAD was found even in the patients with existing atherosclerotic risk factors.

Analysis was performed on 847,982 postmenopausal women. Approximately 50 percent reported having used HRT. When HRT patients were compared to non-HRT patients, they were much more likely to have smoked cigarettes (42.8 percent vs. 40.6 percent),  to be Caucasian (93.6 percent vs. 83.3 percent),  to have hypertension (47.9 percent vs. 45.1 percent) and to have hypercholesterolemia (55.0 percent vs. 51.5 percent). These are all risk factors to develop atherosclerotic risk factors. Even with these risk factors, women who used HRT were significantly less likely to have PAD (3.3 percent vs. 4.1 percent).

Additionally, HRT patients were less likely to have developed diabetes (8.6 percent vs. 10.1 percent).

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 18, 2011
Last Updated:
June 21, 2011