Washington: It turns out that hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women does not always do good to their health.
New evidence shows that HRT, which is widely used for controlling menopausal symptoms, and has been used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, does not protect them against it, and may even cause an increased risk of stroke.
This latest evidence looked at the effects of using hormone therapy for at least six months and involved more than 40,000 women across the world. The length of time women were on treatment, varied across the trials from seven months to just over 10 years.
Overall, the results showed no evidence that hormone therapy provides any protective effects against death from any cause, and specifically death from cardiovascular disease, non-fatal heart attacks or angina, either in healthy women or women with pre-existing heart disease. Instead the findings showed a small increased risk of stroke for post-menopausal women.
The authors also found some evidence that women who started treatment within the first 10 years of their menopause, when menopausal symptoms are most common, seem to have a small protection against death and heart attacks, and no increased risk of stroke. But even in this group, the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) increased.
Author, Dr Henry Boardman at the University of Oxford, said the harms and benefits of hormone therapy vary according to the age of the woman, when they started their treatment.
Boardman concluded "Hormone therapy remains a valid treatment option for women who are significantly troubled by menopausal symptoms, however the risks and benefits of such treatment vary according to age and medical history. Discussion with your GP is recommended when considering treatment."
The study is published today in the Cochrane Library.