Washington DC: Sex hormone levels may affect risk of cardiovascular disease in post-menopausal women, according to a study.
Having a higher blood level of a male hormone (testosterone) and a higher ratio of the male-type to-female type (estrogen) of hormones is associated with a higher risk of heart disease later in life.
The risk for cardiovascular disease is much lower in women than men until women reach the age of 50 years of age, then risk rises dramatically after menopause.
Researchers at the American College of Cardiology evaluated the association of sex hormone levels with incident cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and heart failure over a 12-year follow-up in 2,834 post-menopausal women free of cardiovascular disease at baseline.
A higher testosterone to estradiol ratio was associated with an elevated risk for incident cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and heart failure. Higher total testosterone was associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease and total cardiovascular disease (defined as coronary disease plus stroke events), while higher estradiol levels were associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Additionally, the risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease were approximately linear across the range of total testosterone, testosterone to estradiol ratio and estradiol levels, but there was a U-shaped associated between testosterone to estradiol ratio and heart failure with the extreme ends at a higher risk for heart failure.
"Although sex hormone levels may be linked to future cardiovascular events, it is unclear what the best intervention is to modify sex hormone levels for risk reduction," said Erin D. Michos, senior author on the study.
"However, a sex hormone profile higher in male hormones may identify a woman at higher risk for cardiovascular disease who may benefit from other risk reduction strategies," added Michos.
The research has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.