Hormone replacement therapy does not affect the 24-hour heart rate variability in postmenopausal women: results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial with two regimens.Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2005 Jan; 28 Suppl 1:S172-7.PC
Postmenopausal women are at greater risk of coronary heart disease. The results of previous studies of the effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on cardiac autonomic modulation in postmenopausal women have been contradictory. This study examined whether continuous treatment for 3 months with estradiol alone (ERT) or with estradiol plus norethisterone (HRT), increases 24-hour heart rate variability (HRV) in postmenopausal women. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 40 healthy postmenopausal women, 46-63 years of age, were randomly assigned to (1) continuous 2 mg of estradiol plus 1 mg of norethisterone acetate daily (HRT, n = 13), or (2) 2 mg of estradiol daily (ERT, n = 14), or (3) placebo (n = 13). Before and after 3 months of therapy, blood estradiol concentrations were measured and 24-hour electrocardiograms recorded for evaluation of 24-hour time-domain indices of HRV, and indices derived from the three-dimensional return map. Both hormone replacement regimens significantly increased blood estradiol concentrations, while no change occurred in the placebo group. In the three treatment groups, multiple 24-hour time-domain indices of HRV and indices derived from the three-dimensional return map remained unchanged. In healthy postmenopausal women, HRT with estradiol or estradiol and norethisterone for 3 months did not modify cardiac autonomic activity evaluated by 24-hour indices of HRV. These findings are consistent with a lack of protective cardiovascular effect of HRT described in recent large randomized trials.