Hormone Therapy (Formerly called, HRT!), is widely used for controlling menopausal symptoms. Recently, the Cochrane Library reported on new findings. This latest evidence looked at the effects of using hormone therapy with more than 40,000 women across the world. The length of time women were on treatment, varied across the trials from seven months to just over 10 years.
I reached out to Dr. Josh Trutt, a healthy aging expert, to weigh in on this and help us base our healthcare on facts instead of sound bites!
Dr Trutt explained, “This is exactly what all the previous studies show: If you are within a decade of menopause, HT lowers your risk of all cause and cardiovascular mortality a lot (this paper said it lowers risk 30%; the Endocrine Society said 40%), and drops heart disease risk by 50%!!, with no increase in stroke risk– but if you are above age 60 and take oral estrogen and a synthetic progestin, it increases your risk of stroke.”
You can read about the latest Endocrine Society meeting in San Diego and their findings, here.
To further help us understand the stats below, Dr. Trutt, gave us the interpretation in lay speak! (in orange)
“We performed subgroup analyses according to when treatment was started in relation to the menopause. Those who started hormone therapy less than 10 years after the menopause had lower mortality (RR 0.70 This means risk of death was 30% lower, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.95, moderate quality evidence) and coronary heart disease (composite of death from cardiovascular causes and non-fatal myocardial infarction) (RR 0.52 This means risk of cardiovascular death was FIFTY PERCENT LOWER!!!), 95% CI 0.29 to 0.96; moderate quality evidence), though they were still at increased risk of venous thromboembolism (This means they were at increased risk of DVT (“blood clots in the veins”), which is true of any woman on oral synthetic hormones, including birth control pills) (RR 1.74, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.73, high quality evidence) compared to placebo or no treatment. There was no strong evidence of effect on risk of stroke in this group. In those who started treatment more than 10 years after the menopause(i.e. women over age 60 like in the WHI trial) there was high quality evidence that it had little effect on death or coronary heart disease between groups but there was an increased risk of stroke (RR 1.21, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.38, high quality evidence) and venous thromboembolism (RR 1.96, 95% CI 1.37 to 2.80, high quality evidence).”
For more of Dr. Trutt’s perspective be sure to read, Is The Uneven Reporting Of HRT Studies A “War on Women”?? He even has a handy graph showing age-vs-stroke or cancer or death.
You can learn about a few other studies in this: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS Hormone Therapy & Heart Disease – KEEPS Study Report