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Cholesterol Test Spots When HRT Raises Heart Risks
Date:5/22/2008

Ratio of 'good' to 'bad' cholesterol determined chances of trouble in postmenopausal women, study shows

THURSDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Standard cholesterol evaluations may help predict which women are at risk for heart problems while taking hormone replacement therapy, and which women are not.

Simply put, those with good cholesterol levels experience no increased risk for heart attacks while taking hormone therapy, while women with high levels do have a heightened risk, a new study suggests.

But this doesn't mean that all women whose cholesterol levels are within normal range should feel comfortable taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms.

"You have to look at the total health of the woman and not just the heart," said study author Dr. Paul Bray, director of hematology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. "Our study is confined to heart and coronary disease outcomes, which is important, because there was a substantial amount of bad press related to hormones and coronary outcomes, so that put women in the position of either feeling guilty for using hormones when they really had no other good therapy or denying themselves when they perhaps didn't need to."

Hormone replacement therapy can also affect the risk of cancer, blood clots, strokes and more, pointed out Bray, whose report is published in the June 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

"It's an individualized program," emphasized Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It depends on the woman, and you have to weigh the risks and benefits. Clearly, you're not going to use hormones in a woman who has risk factors for heart disease."

Some studies, notably earlier results from the U.S. government-sponsored Women's Health Initiative (WHI) have shown an increased risk of heart attacks and st
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