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Estrogen treatment may help reverse severe pulmonary hypertension
Date:9/15/2011

UCLA researchers have found that the hormone estrogen may help reverse advanced pulmonary hypertension, a rare and serious condition that affects 2 to 3 million individuals in the U.S., mostly women, and can lead to heart failure.

The condition causes a progressive increase in blood pressure in the main pulmonary artery, which originates in the heart's right ventricle and delivers blood to the lungs. The rise in pressure impairs heart function by enlarging the right ventricle, potentially leading to heart failure.

Published in the Sept. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the preclinical study shows that in rats, estrogen treatment can reverse the progression of pulmonary hypertension to heart failure and can restore lung and ventricle structure and function.

The disease progresses slowly, so most patients don't seek treatment until major symptoms occur, such as shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting. According to researchers, current medication for pulmonary hypertension only temporarily reduces the disease's severity. For advanced pulmonary hypertension, there are fewer options, and the condition often necessitates a lung transplant.

"Unfortunately, up until now, there hasn't been an ideal pharmacological therapy to treat advanced pulmonary hypertension," said senior study author Mansoureh Eghbali, Ph.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA who has a strong background in studying the role of gender and estrogen in cardiovascular diseases. "We hope that this early study may offer insight into new therapies."

The UCLA team found that by treating rats with severe pulmonary hypertension with low doses of estrogen, they were able to prevent the disease from progressing to right-ventricular heart failure; this did not happen in untreated rats.

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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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