The cardioprotective effects of combined estrogen/progestin replacement therapy have been questioned. Therefore, we have compared carotid arterial wall thickening and the prevalence of carotid stenosis in elderly women (≤ 65 years old) currently using replacement estrogen/progestins (E+P) with arterial pathology and its prevalence in women using unopposed estrogens (E). This cross-sectional study used baseline data from all 2962 women participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study, a population-based study of coronary heart disease and stroke in elderly adults. Users of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were categorized as never (n = 1726), past (n = 787), current E (n = 280), or current E+P (n = 73). Maximal intimal-medial thickness of the internal and common carotid arteries and stenosis of the internal carotid arteries were measured by ultrasonography. Current E+P users resembled current E users in most respects, although some lifestyle factors were more favorable among E+P users. Current E+P use and current E use (as compared with no use) were associated with smaller internal carotid thicknesses (-0.22 mm; P = 0.003; and -0.09 mm; P = 0.05, respectively) and smaller common carotid wall thicknesses (-0.05 mm; P = 0.03; and -0.02 mm; P = 0.1, respectively) and lower odds ratios (OR) for carotid stenosis (≤ 1% vs. 0%); OR = 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.36 to 1.01; and OR = 0.91, 95% CI: 0.67 to 1.24, respectively), after adjustment for current lifestyle and risk factors. When both groups of current HRT users were compared, there were no significant differences in carotid wall thicknesses or prevalence of carotid stenosis. For this sample of elderly women, both current E+P therapy and current E therapy were associated with decreased measures of carotid atherosclerosis. These measures did not differ significantly between the two groups of HRT users.
- carotid arterial wall thickness
- carotid stenosis
- combined estrogen/progestin replacement therapy
- elderly women
- estrogen replacement therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health