Estrogen-only hormone therapy for hot flashes is safe for women’s heart health

Estrogen-only therapy is safe for women’s heart health within ten years of onset of menopause, but not after that. Women that suffer from hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, who might benefit from hormone treatment often worry about the risks of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer, and rightly so considering the inconsistencies in previous research findings.

Recently researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, studied data from the Women’s Health Initiative to find out whether some women could take hormone therapy without increasing their risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke1

The researchers discovered that older women who still had menopausal symptoms after ten years had the highest risk of heart disease. They also noted that women who had been menopausal for less than a decade and had not had a hysterectomy could use estrogen-only hormone therapy without increasing their risk of developing heart disease. Thus, the timing of the start of hormone therapy may influence its effect on heart disease.

Reference

1. Rossouw JE, Prentice RL, Manson JE, Wu L, Barad D, Barnabei VM, Ko M, LaCroix AZ, Margolis KL, and  Stefanick ML. Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease by Age and Years Since Menopause JAMA. 2007; 297:1465-1477.