Selective estrogen receptor modulators and risk for coronary heart disease

Climacteric. 2007 Apr;10(2):97-111. doi: 10.1080/13697130701258804.


Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in women in most countries. Atherosclerosis is the main biological process determining CHD. Clinical data support the notion that CHD is sensitive to estrogens, but debate exists concerning the effects of the hormone on atherosclerosis and its complications. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) are compounds capable of binding the estrogen receptor to induce a functional profile distinct from estrogens. The possibility that SERMs may shift the estrogenic balance on cardiovascular risk towards a more beneficial profile has generated interest in recent years. There is considerable information on the effects of SERMs on distinct areas that are crucial in atherogenesis. The complexity derived from the diversity of variables affecting their mechanism of action plus the differences between compounds make it difficult to delineate one uniform trend for SERMs. The present picture, nonetheless, is one where SERMs seem less powerful than estrogens in atherosclerosis protection, but more gentle with advanced forms of the disease. The recent publication of the Raloxifene Use for The Heart (RUTH) study has confirmed a neutral effect for raloxifene. Prothrombotic states may favor occlusive thrombi at sites occupied by atheromatous plaques. Platelet activation has received attention as an important determinant of arterial thrombogenesis. Although still sparse, available evidence globally suggests neutral or beneficial effects for SERMs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Hemostasis / drug effects
  • Hemostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Risk Factors
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / pharmacology*


  • Estrogens
  • Lipids
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators