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AHA: Postmenopausal Heart Disease Risk Cut with Hormones

New evidence from randomized controlled trial confirms what observational studies have shown

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Women with at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease can improve endothelial function by starting hormone replacement therapy soon after menopause, according to study findings presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Annual Conference held this week in Atlanta.

James A. Arrowood, M.D., and colleagues from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, conducted a randomized, controlled trial of 127 women in their early 50s who were divided into four groups, two of which acted as controls and comprised women with either no risk factor for coronary heart disease or at least one risk factor. The other two groups comprised women with at least one risk factor, and while one group took conjugated estrogen, the other took estrogen plus a progestin.

Endothelial function, measured by flow-mediated dilation, improved among the at-risk women on hormone replacement therapy, both with and without the addition of a progestin. For women with no risk factors for coronary heart disease, there was a weak correlation between flow-mediated dilation and time since menopause, but this did not apply to the women with risk factors, the researchers report.

"These data suggest that endothelial function is improved in postmenopausal women with risk factors for coronary heart disease when hormone replacement therapy is started early after menopause," the authors conclude.

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