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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
HRT 'reduces heart disease risk'
Heart monitor
HRT users at reduced risk of heart disease, research shows
Women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a reduced risk of heart disease, say researchers.

And studies carried out at Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust in London show that all forms of HRT are equally effective in cutting the danger in older women.

The discovery that the benefits of HRT on reducing risk factors for heart disease are not significantly affected by the way it is taken is really good news for menopausal women

Dr Mary Seed, Charing Cross Hospital
Rates of heart disease in women rise sharply after the menopause, and this has been attributed to changes in the woman's hormone supplies.

As a result, it has traditionally been thought that by maintaining these hormones with HRT, the protection can be extended. But earlier studies have claimed this does not work in practice.

Women who took part in the latest trial, 260 of them in all, were randomly given the three different methods of HRT - oral, patch or implant.

They were fist give oestrogen alone and then oestrogen plus norethisterone, or testosterone for implant.

Risk factors for heart disease were treated in all patients, including measurements for weight, waist/hip ratio, blood pressure and levels of lipoproteins, glucose and insulin.

Little variation

Dr Mary Seed, of Charing Cross Hospital's lipid clinic, who led the research, said that there was an improvement in risk factors for each of the types of HRT, with little variation between them.

She added: "The discovery that the benefits of HRT on reducing risk factors for heart disease are not significantly affected by the way it is taken is really good news for menopausal women, as they can now take the type of therapy they feel happiest with."

Professor Rory Shaw, Medical Director at the Hammersmith Hospital, said the findings would provide reassurance for patients.

A spokeswoman for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) 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."

She advised women with concerns about the impact of HRT on their health to discuss the concerns with their doctor.

She added: "The effects of HRT on heart disease are not fully understood but there are 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."

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See also:

29 Aug 99 | Health
HRT may not protect the heart
10 Mar 99 | Health
HRT link to heart attacks
26 Jan 00 | Health
HRT threat to breast screening
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