Hormone Replacement Therapy and Heart Health
At one time, conventional wisdom concerning hormone replacement therapy and heart health suggested that hormone replacement therapy could improve a woman's heart health. However, findings from clinical trials showed that this was untrue. In fact, long-term use of hormone replacement therapy may actually increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) once seemed to be the answer for many of the conditions women face as they age. It was thought that hormone replacement therapy could ward off heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer, while improving women's quality of life.
However, findings from several clinical trials have emerged that showed this was not true. In fact, long-term use of hormone replacement therapy poses serious risks and may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Hormone replacement therapy can involve the use of estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin. Each has a slightly different effect on a woman's health, including her heart health.
Research has shown that estrogen-plus-progestin hormone replacement therapy increased women's risk for:
However, this type of hormone replacement therapy had some benefits. For example, it reduced the risk for colorectal cancer and bone fractures.
Estrogen-alone hormone replacement therapy also increased the risk for certain medical conditions, including:
This type of hormone replacement therapy had no effect on heart disease or colorectal cancer and an uncertain effect on breast cancer. Estrogen alone offered no protection against memory loss, and there were more cases of dementia in those who took the therapy than those on the placebo, although the increase was not statistically significant. Estrogen alone reduced the risk for bone fractures.