Postmenopausal sex hormone levels may modify blood vessel function

November 14th, 2007 - 2:19 am ICT by admin  
The study, led by Emily Szmuilowicz, M.D., of Brigham and Women Hospital, is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

“Our study shows that in postmenopausal women, higher blood levels of progesterone are associated with less of an increase in blood pressure and less blood vessel constriction in response to angiotensin II, one of the naturally occurring substances in the body which causes the blood vessels to constrict,” Szmuilowicz said.

“Constriction of the blood vessels can lead to increased blood pressure, which can contribute to problems such as heart attack and stroke,” she added.

Previous studies have shown that differences in blood levels of estrogen, even within the low range of estrogen levels experienced by postmenopausal women, are related to risk of many common diseases such as osteoporosis and breast cancer.

This current study is the first to suggest that postmenopausal progesterone levels also have physiological importance as they may impact vascular function.

For the study, Szmuilowicz and her research team enrolled 34 hypertensive postmenopausal women.

Serum estradiol, serum progesterone, blood pressure, and renal vascular resistance (RVR) were measured at the beginning of the study, and blood pressure and RVR were measured once again after an infusion of angiotensin II.

The team found that following the angiotensin II infusion; the women had increases in blood pressure and blood vessel constriction. Among postmenopausal women in low-sodium balance, these responses were blunted with increased endogenous progesterone concentrations.

“Our findings highlight the importance of examining the effects of progesterone as well as estrogen in studies of postmenopausal women,” Szmuilowicz said. (ANI)

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