Mechanisms of cardiovascular activity of ovarian hormones

G. Mercuro, S. Zoncu, G. M C Rosano, Giuseppe Rosano, Juan Carlos Kaski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present article focuses on the effects of the ovarian steroids, particularly oestrogens, on the cardiovascular system. It reviews recent advances regarding the mechanisms of action of these hormones on vasomotor tone and on vascular cell growth and proliferation. The consensus of the published data is that oestrogens, through their direct or genomic-dependent activities, elicit beneficial effects on mechanisms which control blood flow and changes that occur during plaque formation. These findings seem to contribute to understanding oestrogen cardioprotection and also raise awareness of a variety of clinical conditions in which oestrogen treatment could be indicated because of its effects on blood circulation. The effects of progestins on the cardiovascular system are less well studied. These hormones, which have to be added to oestrogens to protect against the unwanted side-effect of endometrial hyperplasia, have a number of potential adverse effects: they reduce HDL lipoproteins and attenuate blood flow and arterial size and compliance. Although current areas of controversy include the effects of progestin administration on the cardioprotective aspects of oestrogen therapy, increasing evidence suggests that progestins could have either neutral or opposing effects versus oestrogens depending on their dose and androgenicity. The final section of his article summarizes the clinical experiences on the use of oestrogens, administered alone or in a combined scheme, in postmenopausal women with coronary atherosclerosis, effort angina, microvascular angina and arterial hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Heart Journal, Supplement
Issue numberG
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary blood flow
  • Endothelial function
  • Myocardial ischaemia
  • Oestrogen and progestin receptors
  • Vasomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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