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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK
HRT heart treatment 'caution'
Hormone therapies should not be prescribed just to boost heart health
Hormone therapies should not be prescribed just to boost heart health
Hormone replacement therapy should not be prescribed to women solely to prevent heart attacks and strokes, say doctors.

The advice, on treating women with cardiovascular disease, comes from the influential American Heart Association (AHA).

Prior to the menopause, women are naturally protected against cardiovascular disease.

And in some cases, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) seems to continue this protection after the menopause. But the evidence is far from conclusive.

Recent research on HRT and heart disease has offered conflicting results

British Heart Foundation spokeswoman
British heart experts say until more is known, HRT should not be "prescribed" as a preventative measure.

Postmenopausal women must weigh the benefits of HRT - the treatment of menopausal symptoms and hot flushes and the prevention of osteoporosis - against the risks of blood clots, gallbladder disease, and possible increased risk of breast cancer.


The guidance is published in Circulation, the journal of the AHA.

It is partly based on a large-scale study which found HRT was of no benefit to women with heart disease.

The guidance says doctors should concentrate on tackling the factors that increase a woman's risk of heart problems.

Dr Lori Mosca, the author of the AHA's advice, said: "For many years, cardiologists and other health care providers who take care of women have assumed that HRT protects the heart.

"At this time there is not sufficient evidence to make that claim - our purpose is to clarify the role of hormones in heart disease prevention."

A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation said: "Recent research on HRT and heart disease has offered conflicting results about whether HRT does cut the risk of heart disease - uncertainties remain.

"For this reason the BHF believes that further research into the long term health risks and benefits of HRT is vital.

"The effects of HRT on heart disease are not fully understood but there other health benefits such as a reduction in hot flushes or in the risk of developing osteoporosis that women should consider when deciding what is right for them."

The BHF said any women who were concerned about the using HRT should consult their doctor.

Professor Grazia Modena, of the European Society of Cardiology, said there was "no real evidence HRT prevented cardiovascular disease.

"The prescription of HRT should be based on individual patient factors and quality of life issues associated with menopausal symptoms."

Two large-scale studies of healthy women which should clarify HRT's role in the prevention of heart disease are under way in the US and Europe.

Results are expected in five to eight years.

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