A Cochrane review published today examines the effects of hormone therapy on the cardiovascular system.
The review findings suggest that hormone therapy does not provide any protective effects against death from any cause, including cardiovascular disease, non-fatal heart attack or angina, either in healthy women or women with pre-existing heart disease. The study concludes that in post-menopausal women, hormone therapy can result in a slight increased risk of stroke and blood clots.
Commenting on the study, Mr Edward Morris, RCOG spokesperson and Chair of the British Menopause Society says:
“Current practice in the UK is that very few women start HRT after the age of 60 yet in the studies presented in the Cochrane review the majority of women were over 60 years of age.
“We strongly believe that the first 10 years of the menopause is an important time in a woman’s life to improve her health and reduce the risk of long term disease, the so-called ‘window of opportunity’.
“Although the findings, which suggest a slightly increased risk of stroke and blood clots, are useful scientifically, it is important to emphasise that the absolute risk is very small and we must reiterate the underlying message of the study - for every 1000 women, when given at the right time, HRT could save 6 lives and prevent 8 women from suffering heart disease at the cost of 5 extra women experiencing blood clots.
“Ultimately it is up to women to decide whether they wish to take HRT. The data as presented in the review suggest that HRT started early in the menopause may well have improved benefit in the prevention of disease, and most importantly prevent early deaths. This news is extremely reassuring.”
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This is an updated version of a Cochrane review published in 2013.
The British Menopause Society’s statement on the Cochrane Review is available to view here.