HRT Reduces Heart Attack Risk

The dispute around the safety and benefits of taking HRT (hormone replace therapy) has taken another turn, after a study found that long-term use of the therapy considerably reduced heart attacks and heart failure, without raising the danger of cancer, blood clots or stroke.

In the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, researchers from Denmark studied 1,006 healthy, menopausal women aged between 45 and 58 over an initial ten year period, 504 of which were receiving hormone replace therapy.

Within the period, 33 women in the non-HRT group died or had heart attack or heart failure, in comparison to only 16 people who were receiving hormone therapy.

The surveillance was conducted throughout a six-year follow-up period, in which time 53 women in the non-HRT group experienced the cardiovascular endpoints in contrast to 33 women in the HRT group.

Significantly, the research study also demonstrated that women who had endured a hysterectomy, and younger women taking HRT, were at a considerably lower risk of breast cancer, with 10 cases compared to 17 in the control group.

Neither starting HRT early, nor long-term use, increased the possibility of getting breast cancer or stroke, the study found.

Hormone Replace Therapy Debate

The findings from the report are interesting as experts have been debating the advantages and potential dangers of taking HRT for 10 years, after the outcome from the US Women’s Health Initiative study in 2002 showed that hormone replace therapy increased the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.

Similar findings were reported from the Million Women Study, which resulted in the number of women being put on the HRT treatment dropping by about half.  The results of the Million Women Study had concluded that women ran double the risk of developing breast cancer, although later research proposed that the research had been flawed and the conclusions “unreliable.”

The authors of the recent study in Denmark concluded that treatment with long-term HRT early after menopause “significantly reduced risk of mortality, heart failure, or myocardial infarction [heart attack], without any apparent increase of cancer, venous thromboembolisms [DVT] or stroke.”

But the authors also emphasised that as a result of “the potential time lag, longer time may be necessary to take more definite conclusions.”

Co-author of the report, Dr Louise Schierback, noted that “these results matter because medical practitioners and women have been anxious of HRT for the past decade. This has led to a poorer quality of life for numerous women around menopause.”

The UK Department of Health confirmed that they have asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to provide advice on the menopause, which considers “all available evidence.”  “Doctors are best placed to decide whether a patient should start HRT. They can discuss risks and benefits and take into account each patient’s medical history,” a spokesman added.


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