Hormones and Your Heart


When it comes to heart health, hormones play a leading role. The way they’re functioning in the body directly impacts the cardiovascular system, the heart and the blood vessels. What does this mean? When they’re working properly, they can help prevent heart disease; when they’re out of balance, they can cause it.

Just what are the effects of hormones on your heart? Could hormonal imbalance be serious enough for you to lead to cardiovascular problems? Are you at a greater cardiometabolic risk because of hormonal or other issues, and, if so, what can you do about it?

To help answer these questions, here’s a look at hormones and the heart:

The Heart-Hormone Connection

To understand the link between hormones and heart health, look at the hormone-producing gland — the pancreas. Located behind the stomach and beside the small intestine, the pancreas is a large gland that creates insulin, the hormone that allows the body’s cells to receive blood glucose. If something goes wrong with the way the pancreas makes this hormone, perhaps due to insulin resistance, suddenly there’s too much blood glucose being made. Because of a hormonal problem, the body has too much blood glucose, and too much blood glucose can cause type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems — like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Major Cardiometabolic Risk Factors for Heart Disease

High blood glucose is only one of the big risk factors for cardiovascular problems. Other conditions that may be influenced by hormonal imbalance and that increase a person’s cardiometabolic risk include the following:

  • High Blood Pressure: Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is one of the biggest and most common causes of heart disease.
  • High Bad Cholesterol: When low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, is too high, it’s easier for the inner walls of the arteries to accumulate plaque.
  • Low Good Cholesterol: When high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as good cholesterol, is too low, it’s also easy for plaque to accumulate.
  • High Triglycerides: Any time a person has high triglycerides and unhealthy cholesterol levels, even more plaque accumulation may form.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Boosting the risk for not just heart disease, but also for stroke or diabetes, metabolic syndrome is a condition describing a combination of risk factors including high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL and increased abdominal fat.

What You Can Do

To offset your risks for heart disease, take steps to change your lifestyle, such as:

  1. Monitor your cholesterol
  2. Manage blood pressure
  3. Lower blood sugar
  4. Eat a heart-healthy diet
  5. Lose weight
  6. Get regular physical activity
  7. Quit smoking

The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that produce, store, and secrete hormones. Hormones influence many aspects of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart and blood vessels. While hormones play a key role in maintaining cardiovascular health, high levels of some hormones can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

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Heart Health Infographic

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The Hormone Health Network is the public education affiliate of the Endocrine Society dedicated to helping both patients and doctors find information on the prevention, treatment and cure of hormone-related conditions.

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