18, February 2010
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute re-analyzed data from the landmark Women's Health Initiative clinical trial of the effects of combination hormone therapy-progestin in combination with estrogen-in 16,608 post-menopausal women with an intact uterus, ages 50-79 years at enrollment.
The study found a trend toward an increased risk of heart disease during the first two years of hormone therapy among women who began therapy within 10 years of menopause, and a more marked elevation of risk among women who began hormone therapy more than 10 years after menopause.
"Today, most women who take hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms begin therapy shortly after menopause. Based on today's report, even these women appear to be at increased risk of heart disease for several years after starting combination hormone therapy," Dr. Susan B. Shurin, acting director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in a statement.
"It is clearer than ever that women who are considering post-menopausal hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms should discuss their risk of heart disease and other risks-such as breast cancer, stroke, and dangerous blood clots-with their doctors before starting therapy," she added.