A new study published in the Cochrane Library has revealed that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for postmenopausal women does not provide any protection for cardiovascular diseases; in fact, it may even increase the risk of a stroke in postmenopausal women.
HRT is widely used for controlling menopausal symptoms, and has been used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. However, this latest evidence looked at the effects of using HRT for at least 6-months and involved more than 40,000 women across the world. The time period for which women were on the HRT, varied across the trials from seven months to over 10 years.
Overall, the researchers found no evidence that hormone therapy protects women from cardiovascular diseases, non-fatal heart attacks or angina. This applies to healthy women and women with pre-existing heart conditions. Instead, the findings suggested a small increased risk of stroke for post-menopausal women. The researchers found some evidence that women who started treatment within the first 10 years of menopause seem to have very little protection against death and heart attacks, and no increased risk of stroke. But there was an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) even in this group.
Dr Henry Boardman, author of the study 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. 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."