Oestrogen treatment in people with a rare circulatory condition may prevent them from suffering heart failure, a new study has found.
Pulmonary hypertension stops the pulmonary arteries from stretching, meaning the heart has to work harder to push blood to the lungs where it can be oxygenated and the Pulmonary Hypertension Association says the disease should not be confused with regular high blood pressure.
Scientists at University of California, Los Angeles were able to use oestrogen to reverse the effects of the disease, restoring full circulatory function to the affected blood vessels.
Professor Mansoureh Eghbali said: "Oestrogen appears to work through an interplay of several factors, including suppression of lung inflammation and fibrosis, as well as reversal of ventricle enlargement."
She added that it is likely a genetic mutation that affects oestrogen activity across cell boundaries is leading to the disease as the majority of cases of pulmonary hypertension are seen in young females – an age group that should be producing enough natural oestrogen.