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Heart Disease Risk in Postmenopausal Women and the Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy

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Review on December 03, 2009

Postmenopausal women may find themselves at risk from a host of health problems as they age. Low hormone levels in postmenopausal bodies can often contribute to the development of diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Until recently hormone replacement therapy use has been thought reduce the risk of such conditions by introducing hormones into the body and replenishing those levels reduced by the postmenopausal state. The recent 'Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study' is the first clinical study to access the claims which other, observational studies, made about the relationship between hormone replacement therapy and coronary heart disease.

'The Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study' consisted of the evaluation of 2763 postmenopausal women over a period of 4.1 years. Half the women involved were given hormone replacement therapy while the other half were given a placebo supplement.

The researchers found very little difference in the results of the two groups. The likelihood of the postmenopausal women suffering from coronary heart disease while taking hormone replacement therapy was very similar to the risk to those taking the placebo. However, it is in the break up of risk over time that the problems with hormone replacement therapy become apparent. In the first year of consumption, the postmenopausal patients taking hormone replacement therapy were at a much greater risk of suffering from heart disease than those women who were not. While after three years taking hormone replacement therapy the risk was in fact considerably lower in comparison to those women who were taking the placebo.

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The results of this study differ significantly from those obtained from observational studies which have been conducted with postmenopausal women in the past. The differences between such studies are difficult to explain but researchers are keen to stress that the ambiguity of these results highlight the problems which can occur when hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to postmenopausal women and reduced heart disease risk is thought to be a benefit of the treatment.

Postmenopausal women should consult their doctor when they consider whether or not to embark on a course of hormone replacement therapy. The numerous benefits and risks associated with this treatment need to be assessed by postmenopausal women individually in order for the women involved to find the most effective treatment for their problems. Although hormone replacement therapy is something of an unknown quantity when it comes to postmenopausal treatments, the positive side effects which many women associate with this treatment it may out way the dangers involved.

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