Study Will Look at Early Use of HRT

Estrogen replacement might be heart-healthy for menopausal women

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SUNDAY, March 12, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Yale University researchers have launched a study that will examine whether starting hormone therapy in early menopause helps protect women from heart disease while improving their quality of life.

The Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) will recruit 90 healthy, recently menopausal women, aged 42 to 58, to assess the effects of using pill and skin patch hormone therapy.

Recently released findings from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study suggest that estrogen did have a beneficial effect on the heart in postmenopausal women aged 50 to 59. Earlier results showed that estrogen offered little benefit for older women, however.

"These findings are consistent with estrogen having a beneficial effect if used early, but a negative effect if used late," Dr. Hugh S. Taylor, principal investigator of the new KEEPS trial at Yale, said in a prepared statement.

"Estrogen seems to work by limiting the progression of atherosclerotic changes rather than treating established disease. You can't turn back the clock," Taylor said. "Estrogen works by preventing disease, but it doesn't work if one goes for years without it. Newly menopausal women can use estrogen for relief of hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms without worrying about their heart. Women close to menopause might even see benefits for their heart."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about hormone therapy.

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, Feb. 28, 2006

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