My Consultation With Dr. Minkin
Face to face with Dr. Minkin, I gave her the results of my medical tests that would weigh in her decision to recommend whether I resume estrogen therapy, from my lipid panel to my coronary calcium scan (a test that looks for specks of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries); from my blood pressure to my carotid artery calcium scan (the carotid artery is in the neck.) She knew that I didn’t smoke or drink, had a reasonably healthy diet, exercised four times a weeks, 30 minutes each time, and stopped taking estrogen seven years ago.
Dr. Minkin was glad to hear that I stopped taking estrogen at the beginning of 2009, since I originally thought I stopped over a decade ago. “A recently released clinical study by Dr. Howard Hodis, a cardiologist, divided women into two groups, those who started receiving estrogen therapy within six years of menopause, and those who started later than 10 years after menopause,” she explained.
Measuring plaque in the neck (carotid) vessels, his study revealed that women in the first group had substantially less plaque than the ladies in the second. “Estrogen therapy didn’t protect those women in the second group against coronary disease, but it didn’t harm them, either,” Dr. Minkin explained. Although I hadn’t taken estrogen for seven years, I more closely resembled the women whose hearts were protected by estrogen therapy, she said. Potentially great news! The fact that I exercise and eat right, and don’t smoke or drink, will also help my cardiovascular protection, she noted.
Dr. Minkin agreed with my frustration that all kinds of doctors had little, no, or fallacious knowledge about the benefits of estrogen therapy. “When the WHI results were released in July 2002, menopause education literally ground to a halt,” she said. ”So doctors who were being trained beyond that point were most vulnerable.”