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Med Res Arch. 2018 Feb;6(2). pii: 1663. Epub 2018 Feb 15.

The clinical impact of estrogen loss on cardiovascular disease in menopausal females.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, U.S.A.
The BIO5 Research Institute, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, U.S.A.
Department of Physiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, U.S.A. Sarver Molecular Cardiovascular Research Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, U.S.A.
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, U.S.A.


According to the CDC (2017), more women than men have died from heart disease over the last 20-25 years. On the contrary, premenopausal women are protected against heart and cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to men. Following menopause, there is sharp rise in CVD mortality and morbidity in women compared to men indicating that women lose protection against CVD during menopause. This loss of CVD protection in women drives the CDC statistics. Life expectance of women has now reached 82 (almost 35 years longer than at the turn of the 20th century). Yet, women typically undergo menopause at 50-60 years of age, which means that women spend over 40% of their life in menopause. Therefore, menopausal women, and associated CVD risk, must be considered as distinct from an aging or senescent woman. Despite longstanding knowledge that premenopausal women are protected from CVD, our fundamental understanding regarding the shift in CVD risk with menopause remains inadequate and impedes our ability to develop sex-specific therapeutic strategies to combat menopausal susceptibility to CVD. This review provides a critical overview of clinical trials attempting to address CVD susceptibility postmenopausal using hormone replacement therapy. Next, we outline key deficiencies in pre-clinical menopause models and introduce an alternative to overcome these deficiencies. Finally, we discuss a novel connection between AMPK and estrogen-dependent pathways that may serve as a potential solution to increased CVD susceptibility in menopausal women.


AMP-activated protein kinase; cardiovascular disease; estrogen; estrogen receptors hormone replacement therapy; menopause; ovariectomy; perimenopause; timing hypothesis


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