DALLAS, Nov. 8 -- A new study shows that a woman's genetic makeup can reveal how well hormone replacement therapy will reduce her risk of developing heart disease.
"Women do not respond equally to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Not all postmenopausal women will receive the same heart benefit of lower LDL cholesterol -- the "bad" low-density lipoproteins -- by taking HRT," says H. Robert Superko, M.D., FACC, in research presented today at the American Heart Association's 71st Scientific Sessions.
Superko, director of research and clinical affairs at the Berkeley HeartLab and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif., and his colleagues found that women with larger sized LDL particles may be more likely than women with smaller LDLs to reap heart-related benefits from HRT.
HRT, which combines the hormones estrogen and progestin, can reduce menopause symptoms such as "hot flashes" and decrease the risk of osteoporosis, a disease causing weakened bones that break easily. Several studies suggest that HRT also may protect the heart by raising blood levels of the high-density lipoproteins (HDL, or "good" cholesterol) that help clear cholesterol from the blood vessels. Excess cholesterol in the blood contributes to fatty deposits that clog blood vessels, triggering heart attacks and strokes.
Research conducted by Superko and other researchers during the last decade
suggests that a person's response to cholesterol-lowering diets and drugs is
inherited -- driven, in part, by what is called the atherosclerosis
susceptibility trait, he says. The Berkeley researchers tested whether this
trait might also influence how a woman's cholesterol levels respond to HRT.
The trait determines if a person has one of two patterns of LDL. Pattern A
people have mostly large, buoyant LDL particles; those with pattern B have
smaller, dense forms of LDL. Pattern B increases heart disease risk three-fold.
"If you are a pattern A woman who wants to lower
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association