HDL and the menopause

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To summarize recent provocative findings on conventional and novel metrics of HDL including HDL-C, HDL subclasses and HDL cholesterol efflux capacity as related to menopause.

Recent findings

Pattern of menopause-related changes in HDL-C are not consistent, suggesting a complex relationship between HDL and menopause. Growing body of literature indicates that higher levels of HDL-C may not be consistently cardio-protective in midlife women, suggesting a potential change in other metrics of HDL that could not be captured by the static metric HDL-C. It is also possible that higher HDL-C at certain conditions could be a marker of HDL metabolism dysfunctionality. Significant alterations in other metrics of HDL have been reported after menopause and found to be related to estradiol.

Summary

The impact of changes in novel metrics of HDL over the menopausal transition on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk later in life is not clear in women. Much of our understanding of how the menopausal transition may impact HDL metrics comes from cross-sectional studies. Future longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate other metrics of HDL shown to better reflect the cardio-protective capacities of HDL, so that the complex association of menopause, HDL and CVD risk could be characterized.

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