Objective: Our purpose was to clarify the mechanisms by which postmenopausal estrogen replacement therapy exerts its protective effect on cardiovascular risk.
Study design: By means of a bidirectional Doppler ultrasonographic system we measured pulsatility index variations the internal carotid artery and middle cerebral artery in 25 early postmenopausal women during a 6-month period of hormone replacement therapy. Transdermal estradiol (50 micrograms/day) was continuously administered. A 12-day course of medroxyprogesterone acetate (10 mg/day) was added every second month.
Results: The pulsatility index showed a significant (p = 0.0001) reduction in both arteries after 6 weeks. At 22 weeks a 25% reduction was measured. No variation of the estrogen-induced pulsatility index reduction was observed at the end of every cyclic progestogen supplementation.
Conclusions: In early postmenopausal women hormone replacement therapy causes a rapid reduction of pulsatility index in brain arteries. Cyclical progestational supplementation does not modify this positive effect on reactivity of the blood vessels.