Estrogen replacement therapy and progression of intimal-medial thickness in the carotid arteries of postmenopausal women. ACAPS Investigators. Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerosis Progression Study

Am J Epidemiol. 1995 Nov 15;142(10):1011-9. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a117553.


The effect of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) on 3-year changes in carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT) was explored using serial B-mode ultrasound measurements collected during 1989-1993 as part of the Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerotic Progression Study (ACAPS). Eligibility included increased IMT and elevated low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Of the 186 postmenopausal ACAPS women randomly assigned to receive either placebo or lovastatin, 34% reported use of ERT. Users tended to be younger than nonusers by an average of 3 years, to have more favorable high and low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and to be more likely to have had hysterectomies. Baseline blood pressure, body mass index, and cross-sectional IMT were similar among ERT users and nonusers. In the placebo group, IMT tended to progress among ERT nonusers but to regress among ERT users: Mean covariate-adjusted progression rates were 0.015 +/- 0.007 mm/year versus -0.012 +/- 0.012 mm/year, respectively (p = 0.05). This difference appeared to be independent of lipoprotein concentrations. Lovastatin was associated with an approximately 25% lowering of low density lipoprotein cholesterol among both ERT users and nonusers and had a marked impact on IMT progression (p = 0.004) in these women. ERT appeared to have little additional effect on IMT in women assigned to lovastatin. ERT may reduce or halt the progression of early atherosclerosis in women not receiving active lipid-lowering medication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arteriosclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lovastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonography


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lovastatin