Hormones and Heart Disease

Hormones Risky for Women with Heart Disease [07/03/2001; Reuters Health]

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been thought to protect women's hearts after menopause, two new studies confirm that for women with heart disease, HRT can temporarily raise the risk of heart attack and death. An earlier trial called the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study had shown that among women with heart disease, taking oral estrogen plus progestin elevated the risk of recurrent heart problems in the first year of use, then lowered it thereafter.

To investigate this trend further, researchers in one of the new studies analyzed 20 years' worth of data on nearly 2,500 women in another large US trial. According to their report in the July 3rd issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the same pattern emerged. Overall, the women--who all had established heart disease--saw their risk for heart attack and death go up 25% in their first year on HRT, compared with those who never used hormones.

But women who used HRT for more than one year experienced a drop in heart risk, including a 62% decline among those on hormones for 2 or more years. And there was no apparent difference based on type of HRT, according to Dr. Francine Grodstein and her colleagues at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts.

More than half of the women on HRT were taking oral estrogen alone, while 19% were on oral estrogen plus progestin. The rest used other HRT regimens such as the estrogen patch.

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