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HRT may only pose cardio risk to older women

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) places older women at risk of heart disease and stroke but younger women are relatively "safe", research suggests.

In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative trial was stopped after it found that women taking HRT had more heart attacks and strokes than others.

Now scientists conducting the later 1999 WISDOM trial say that HRT only places women many years past the menopause at risk.

The WISDOM team studied 5,692 healthy women with an average age of 63 years, who were approximately 15 years past the menopause.

Women were split into two groups and half given a daily combined hormone therapy dose and the other a placebo pill.

Scientists say the study confirms an early increase in thromboemblic and cardiovascular risk in older women starting HRT many years after the menopause.

But this does not apply to younger menopausal women who may start HRT to relieve symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Instead these women may gain a cardiovascular benefit.

Writing in an editorial in the British Medical Journal, Helen Roberts at the University of Aukland says this research does not really change anything.

It is already recommended that women do not use HRT over the long term in order to prevent the onset of chronic diseases.

British Medical Journal