Although hormone therapy remains the most efficacious option for the management of vasomotor symptoms of menopause, its effects on blood pressure remain unclear. This review scrutinizes evidence of the mechanisms of action of hormone therapy on signaling pathways affecting blood pressure and evidence from clinical studies.
Comprehensive Ovid MEDLINE searches were conducted for the terms “hypertension” and either of the following “hormone therapy and menopause” or “selective estrogen receptor modulator” from year 2000 to November 2013.
In vitro and physiologic studies did not reveal a clear deleterious effect of hormone therapy on blood pressure. The effect of oral therapy was essentially neutral in large trials conducted in normotensive women with blood pressure as primary outcome. Results from all other trials had several limitations. Oral therapy had a neutral effect on blood pressure in hypertensive women. Transdermal estrogen and micronized progesterone had a beneficial effect on blood pressure in normotensive women and, at most, a neutral effect on hypertensive women. In general, tibolone and raloxifene had a neutral effect on blood pressure in both hypertensive and normotensive women.
Large randomized trials are needed to assess the effect of oral hormone therapy on blood pressure as a primary outcome in hypertensive women and the effect of transdermal preparations on both normotensive and hypertensive women. Transdermal preparations would be the preferred mode of therapy for hypertensive women, in view of their favorable physiologic and clinical profiles. The decision regarding the use of hormone therapy should be individualized, and blood pressure should be monitored during the course of treatment.