Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been proven in countless research studies to relieve the symptoms of hot flashes and mood swings in menopausal women. But a new study concludes that women who begin HRT during menopause might get some additional protection against heart disease without seeing increases in other serious risks.
The study, which was published in the journal BMJ, investigated a theory called the timing hypothesis. In older women, long past menopause, hormone replacement therapy using both estrogen and progesterone was linked to elevated risk for heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, dementia, and breast cancer.
What was uncertain is whether hormones might be safer and more beneficial if they are replenished as they start to drop off, during the time of menopause. Though the results of the new study seem enticing, experts not involved in the study stress that it is not a game-changer.
"This trial is not a trial that's going to change how we prescribe hormone replacement therapy. This isn't going to change practice. There are issues about this trial", says Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
But she says the new results are fascinating and should lead to additional research. Women who are symptomatic with hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, who are recently menopausal might benefit from HRT.
Not only for symptom relief but also for preventing heart attacks and deaths, according to Steinbaum. The study randomly split 1,006 healthy Danish women into two groups: The first group got HRT; the second group got no treatment. All the women in the study were near menopause and no more than two years away from their last menstrual period.
The study was designed to run for 20 years. But researchers stopped it early -- after a decade -- when results from the large Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study a decade ago discovered that women taking combined hormone therapy had suffered more heart attacks, strokes, dangerous blood clots in the legs and lungs, and breast cancer than women taking placebo pills.
Hormone Replacement Therapy May Boost Women's Hearts
Hormone Therapy May Benefit Some Women's Hearts
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