Question: I read somewhere that hormone therapy protects against heart attack but my primary care physician says the opposite. Is it really effective?
Answer: For years, we thought that using hormone therapy after menopause prevented heart attacks. And we had a lot of good, what we call observational trials that would tell us that that was so. It wasn't until the Women's Health Initiative data was released that we found that, through this randomized clinical trial, where we took a group of women who we, who were all very similar, gave some hormones, some we did not. And we found out that those who got hormones actually did more poorly and had more cardiac events.
That made us really rethink this whole issue. And we looked hard at that, at that data, and we found that the women who we were initiating hormone therapy were quite a bit older. It didn't address the issue of the woman who is going through menopause. So there's a lot of questions left about that.
Our current recommendations are that you shouldn't start hormone therapy solely to protect your heart, prevent coronary disease. You should base that decision on your symptoms, your other risk factors, your bone health.
However, if you are concerned about this, you should talk about all of your risk, and there's a number of clinical trials going on on younger women, such as the KEEPS Trial, and if, you might want to talk to your doctor about enrolling in one of these trials because that may help answer the question once and for all.