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 and Heart Health: An Introduction

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.
 

What's the Heart Health Risk Associated With Hormone Replacement Therapy?

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.
 
Estrogen-Plus-Progestin HRT
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 HRT
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.
 
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD; Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2014 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.