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Early On, Hormone Therapy May Raise Women's Heart Risks
Date:2/18/2010

Study reports little coronary benefit, regardless of when treatment begins

THURSDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Hormone replacement therapy does not lower the odds of heart trouble in women who take the regimen to ease hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, a new study reports.

In fact, the researchers say, it will probably elevate the risk for heart attacks for the first two years of use.

"There was no protective effect after women first started hormone therapy," said Dr. James Liu, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at MacDonald Women's Hospital in Cleveland, who was not involved with the study. "There may be some benefit later on, but it's subtle," he added.

The study reported that women who started taking hormone therapy within 10 years of menopause and who had been taking it for six years might derive some heart-protective effects, but the protection did not reach statistical significance.

No protection was found for women who started hormone therapy at least 10 years after menopause.

The findings, published in the Feb. 15 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, do not change any current recommendations regarding the widely debated use of hormone therapy, the researchers said.

"If women are thinking about using hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, they should use the lowest dose and for the shortest duration possible," said the study's lead author, Sengwee Darren Toh, an instructor in population medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Toh worked at the Harvard School of Public Health when the study was conducted.

The findings stem from a new analysis of data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a large, government-sponsored study. Earlier reports from the WHI showed an overall elevated risk for coronary heart disease among women taking estrogen-plus-progestin therapy, called combined hormone therapy.

However, much debate has c
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