CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH: Your Heart and Hormones
Updated: Mar 15
As a naturopathic doctor, I understand the importance of hormones in maintaining overall health, including cardiovascular health. Hormones play a critical role in regulating heart function and blood pressure, and imbalances can contribute to the development of heart disease. Let’s explore the connection between hormones and cardiovascular health and discuss some natural ways to support hormone balance.
One of the most important hormones for cardiovascular health is estrogen. Estrogen plays a key role in maintaining the health of the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels. When estrogen levels are too low, the risk of heart disease increases. However, too high estrogen can also be problematic and contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. If levels are not optimized, naturopathic doctors often recommend herbs and/or natural hormone replacement therapy to support optimal estrogen levels. Studies have previously suggested that premenopausal females have a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared to males of the same age, and the incidence and severity of CVD increases after menopause. The lower rate of CVD in women during reproductive age is attributed, at least in part, to estrogen...specifically estradiol (E2). Estradiol plays a protective role with its receptors in the cardiovascular system and helps fight oxidative stress, fibrosis, angiogenesis, and improves vascular function.
Another important hormone for cardiovascular health is testosterone. Testosterone plays a role in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and maintaining healthy blood vessel function. Low testosterone levels can contribute to the development of heart disease. Studies show that older men with higher testosterone levels display a lower risk of adverse cardiovascular events and lower mortality from ischemic heart disease than men with higher concentrations of the more potent “bad” testosterone; dihydrotestosterone (DHT). However, randomized controlled trials of testosterone supplementation have not been fully studied regarding the outcome of adverse cardiovascular events.
In addition to estrogen, testosterone...thyroid hormones also play a critical role in cardiovascular health. Did you know there are thyroid receptors on the heart as well as the lining of your vessels? That makes your heart sensitive to circulating thyroid hormones. Several interventional trials showed that treatment of thyroid disease improves heart health, which means potential benefits for reducing cardiovascular events. Furthermore, experimental studies showed that thyroid hormones can have an important therapeutic role in reducing the degree of the heart attack and improving heart function after an acute heart attack.
In summary, hormones play a critical role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Naturopathic doctors often make recommendations regarding diet, herbs and lifestyle factors to support optimal hormone levels for improved cardiovascular health. It is important to consult with a naturopathic doctor before starting any hormone therapy or supplement regimen, as some therapies may interact with medications or have other contraindications.
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Author: Dr. Stephanie Hendershot, ND
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Yeap BB. Testosterone and cardiovascular disease risk. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2015 Jun;22(3):193-202. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000161. PMID: 25887389.
Jabbar A, Pingitore A, Pearce SH, Zaman A, Iervasi G, Razvi S. Thyroid hormones and cardiovascular disease. Nat Rev Cardiol. 2016 Dec;13(12):674-688. doi:10.1038/nrcardio.2016.174. PMID: 27811932.
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.