Page last updated at 19:12 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 20:12 UK

Woman's death blamed on menopause

Coroner's report
Dr Carlyon said hormones made Mrs Drew behave out of character

A woman who refused to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) died while suffering from a menopausal episode, an inquest has heard.

Margaret Drew from Hayle in Cornwall was killed when she walked out of her family home on to nearby railway line and was hit by a train.

The Truro inquest was told the 55-year-old had no history of depression or suicidal behaviour.

Cornwall Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon recorded an open verdict.

The former secretary's husband, Clifford Drew, said his wife had suffered from menopausal problems, including hot flushes and mood swings, for about five years.

There is no trigger to this at all, except the hormones making her do things that she normally wouldn't do
Dr Emma Carlyon

Mr Drew said 99% of the time she was an "absolutely delightful, lovely and friendly lady", but she would become depressed and angry during the mood swings, sometimes for a few days.

"When my wife was in one of those bad moods she was totally irrational and the only way to get over it was to give each other space," he said.

He suggested his wife try HRT or homeopathic remedies, but she refused to have any treatment.

Mr Drew told the inquest when he returned from shopping on Friday 3 July, his wife was "clearly angry about something".

He went into another room and, unknown to him, his wife left their home and wandered on to the railway tracks opposite Chapel Lane.

Train driver Stuart Bilby told the inquest Mrs Drew she was about 50ft in front of him when he saw her on the tracks.

She was looking down and walking along the sleepers, he said.

'Nature's way'

Mr Bilby said when he sounded the horn and applied the engine brake, Mrs Drew appeared "startled" and seemed to step out of the way.

"I then heard a heavy, dull thud and I knew I had hit her," he said.

The court heard Mrs Drew's GP was unable to shed any light on her death as she had never attended surgery.

Mr Drew, a retired railway station manager, said he and his wife had discussed suicides on several occasions, because he had come across many instances in his long career.

"She always expressed the view that it was a selfish thing to do," he said.

Recording an open verdict, Dr Carlyon said: "There's often no reason for the menopause, it's just the way nature doles it out really."

The coroner said although it was "strange" Mrs Drew was on the railway line, the facts did not point to anything in particular.

"There is no trigger to this at all, except the hormones making her do things that she normally wouldn't do," Dr Carlyon concluded.

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