Although several studies have shown that exogenous estrogens have beneficial effects on arterial characteristics, the effect of endogenous estrogen on the vascular system is still unknown. In this study, distensibility, an indicator of arterial elasticity, of the common carotid artery was compared in pre- and postmenopausal women. The study comprised 93 premenopausal and 93 postmenopausal women of similar age (range, 43 to 55 years). Women were selected from respondents to a mailed questionnaire about the menopause, which was sent to all women aged 40 to 60 years in the Dutch town of Zoetermeer (n=12 675). Postmenopausal women who were at least 3 years past natural menopause or whose menses had stopped naturally before age 48, were age-matched with premenopausal women with regular menses and without menopausal complaints. The selection aimed at maximizing the contrast in estrogen status between pre- and postmenopausal women of the same age. Distensibility of the carotid artery was measured noninvasively with B-mode ultrasound and a vessel wall movement detector system. Arterial distensibility is expressed as the change in arterial diameter (distension, DeltaD) with the cardiac cycle, adjusted for lumen diameter, pulse pressure, and mean arterial blood pressure. Compared with premenopausal women, postmenopausal women had significantly lower arterial distension (DeltaD 370.5 microm [SE 9.5] versus 397.3 microm [SE 9.6]). These results suggest that the distensibility of the common carotid artery is negatively affected by natural menopause in presumed healthy women.

, , , , , , , , , , ,
Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Westendorp, I.C.D, Bots, M.L, Grobbee, D.E, Reneman, R.S, Hoeks, A.P.G, van Popele, N.M-L, … Hofman, A. (1999). Menopausal status and distensibility of the common carotid artery. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. Retrieved from