Knoxville (WVLT) Results of a new study, called the Wisdom Trial, find older women shouldn't use hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart disease, although it appears to be safe and effective in relieving menopausal symptoms in younger women.
HRT is the gold standard in treating menopausal symptoms, but this study reconfirms, it's not safe for everyone.
Millions of menopausal women stopped taking hormone replacement therapy, when in 2002, a landmark U.S. women's health initiative study was halted after finding postmenopausal women taking HRT had more heart attacks and strokes than women who didn't use hormones.
But more recent research has started to emerge suggesting the risks may apply only to older women, and not those closer to menopause.
This new Wisdom Trial looked at nearly 5,700 healthy women, average age 63, for an average of one year.
It found, those women taking the combined hormone therapy had more major cardiovascular events, angina, heart attack or sudden coronary death and blood clots, compared to women taking a placebo.
OB-GYN Rosalind Cadigan says, "because it increases the risk of thrombo embolism, there may be little embolic plaques on the blood vessels that could break off and go to the heart and cause heart disease or heart attacks."
Cadigan says these finding echo other recent research and confirm there is a role for hormone therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms in younger women.
In fact, recent research has found hormones may have a role in preventing heart disease in younger women, but there both risks and benefits.
"With starting hormones, it seems to be your increased risk of heart disease is most great in the first two years of taking the hormone."
The bottom line, researchers say, is hormone therapy should be used when it's necessary to treat menopausal symptoms, and shouldn't be used for disease prevention.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to hormone replacement therapy.
The answer depends on the severity of a woman's menopausal symptoms and whether she's at risk of heart disease or stroke.
And it's a decision every woman should make with her doctor
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