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Int J Hematol. 2002 Aug;76 Suppl 2:44-6.

Effects of hormone replacement therapy on coagulation and fibrinolysis in postmenopausal women.

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Gil Heart Center, Gachon Medical School, Incheon, Korea.


It has been speculated that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) containing relatively low dose of estrogen would be different from oral contraceptive pills in causing thromboembolism because activation of coagulation depends on the amount of estrogen. In contrast to this knowledge, activation of coagulation pathways has been detected in postmenopausal women treated with HRT in the observational and clinical studies. In this regard, recent studies have reported a 2 to approximately 4 fold risk of venous thromboembolism or pulmonary embolism in postmenopausal women receiving HRT than in non-users of estrogen. On the other hands, HRT has shown to enhance systemic fibrinolysis with decreased plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) levels. In addition, levels of D-dimer exhibited a significant inverse correlation with PAI-1 levels, suggesting enhanced fibrinolysis potential. However, small doses of estrogen/progestogen induce increases in fibrinolytic capacity via a marked reduction of PAI-1. In other words, HRT at conventional dosages may affect fibrinolytic activity to a greater extent than coagulation activity, whereas the converse trend holds at higher estrogen doses. The increase in fibrinolytic potential was independent of any effect on coagulation of CEE at conventional dosages. However, in contrast to healthy postmenopausal women, we recently reported that HRT did not significantly decrease PAI-1 antigen levels and rather, increased tissue factor activity and prothrombin fragment F(1+2) levels from baseline in hypertensive and/or overweight postmenopausal women. Activation of coagulation following HRT may not be balanced by activation of fibrinolysis in some postmenopausal women. Thrombogenic events are considered more likely in patients with certain heritable conditions, such as platelet antigen-2 (PIA-2) polymorphisms. Further, Factor V Leiden mutation increases the risk of primary and recurrent venous thromboembolic events by three to sixfold and the risk of myocardial infarction. Indeed, HRT may decrease or increase atherothrombosis risk depending on the presence of Factor V Leiden mutation. Thus, HRT should not be initiated in women with established coronary artery disease or the coexistence of other risk factors for hypercoagulability-malignancy, immobility, obesity, diabetes, advanced age, or inherited traits. However, HRT at conventional dosages improves fibrinolysis potential in healthy postmenopausal women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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