Hormone Therapy and Your Heart

(WVLT) - It sent shock waves across the country when a 2002 study found women using hormones were increasing their risk of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer. But a new study finds hormones may not be bad for some women's hearts, after all.

Following the 2002 study, millions of women stopped taking hormone pills to treat symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

"They felt kind of at wits end -- well what am I supposed to do, if I can't take the hormones because of the risk, but I'm having all these symptoms that are making my life miserable," Dr. Craig Myers says.

But the original study failed to breakdown the risk by years or time since menopause. OB-GYN doctor Craig Myers says the new analysis indicates the pills don't raise the risk of a heart attack the menopausal age women.

"And what they found is that women that were on the hormones in the ages of 50 to 59 really didn't have an increased risk of heart disease."

According to the new analysis, when it comes to hormone safety...age matters. And in fact, researchers found hormones are a reasonable short-term option for women in their 50's who need relief from menopausal symptoms. But, that age group did see a higher risk of breast cancer and stroke. And, the risk is even greater for older women. Researchers say that's because women in their 70's, or who are 20 years past menopause, already face increased heart, stroke, and cancer risks by virtue of age alone.

"And then they saw what we've always anticipated. As a woman ages, her risks of heart disease go up. And hormones may exacerbate that somewhat," Dr. Myers continues.

So the general advice for hormones remains the same...use them only to relieve symptoms, at the lowest effective does for the shortest time possible.

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