A groundbreaking new study has found that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could reduce early death in post-menopausal women by up to 30%. The research was presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific session and used data from 4,200 women between 1998 and 2012.
HRT stops menopause symptoms
HRT is most commonly used by women going through the menopause in order to alleviate symptoms and make the process much easier to handle. During the menopause, the natural levels of oestrogen in a woman's body decrease drastically, causing a range of symptoms from hot flushes to a low sex drive.
Women taking HRT were found to be 20% more likely to have a low coronary calcium score. Coronary calcium is basically calcified plaque that's found in the coronary arteries and can be used to estimate a person's risk of developing heart disease. A coronary calcium score of above 399 is said to be a major predictor for serious heart attack risk, and the study found that women taking HRT were 36% less likely to have a score this high.
Oestrogen benefits heart
The authors believe that the oestrogen in HRT is responsible for the heart benefits.
Before the menopause, women tend to have lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol) than men of the same age. As oestrogen levels decline, women see a rise in bad cholesterol and a drop in good cholesterol, putting their heart at greater risk of disease. Oestrogen is thought to also benefit artery walls and help blood vessels relax and expand to ease blood flow.
Survival benefits to HRT
Dr Yoav Arnson, lead author at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said,
"From a cardiovascular standpoint I believe it is beneficial to take hormone replacement therapy. In addition, we’ve shown very clear survival benefits of using hormone replacement therapy."
There's been a lot of bad press over the years in relation to HRT, the most memorable being that it could increase a woman's chances of developing breast cancer. However, Cancer Research UK has admitted that increased risk from HRT is still smaller than that of an unhealthy lifestyle.
While more research is needed to determine which groups of women this is most beneficial for, it will hopefully pave the way for more women to explore HRT whom might have been put off beforehand.
Top gynaecologist backs HRT
Miss Tania Adib, Consultant Gynaecologist at Twenty-five Harley Street Day Clinic and expert in menopause and gynaecological cancer, commented: “There has been much debate regarding the safety of HRT, but the evidence is clear that if started around the time of the menopause, it can have many positive effects such as treating hot flushes, sweats, low mood, low energy and vaginal dryness.” She added: “HRT can be taken in many different forms such as gels, patches and tablets. The exact type is tailored to each woman’s needs to provide a completely integrated treatment.”
To find a qualified expert who can talk you through your options for treating menopause symptoms, visit Twenty-five Harley Street.
The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods ceaseFull medical glossary