AHA Questions Benefits of Hormone Therapy
Healthy women should not take hormones after menopause to prevent heart disease, and those with heart disease should not begin hormone treatment, according to new guidelines released yesterday by the American Heart Association. The Washington Post reports that the recommendations -- based on new findings indicating that hormones do not benefit women who have had a heart attack or stroke and may increase their risk of an additional attack -- represent a "drastic change of the organization's recent advice." In 1995, the AHA recommended that all women with heart disease, which kills more than 226,000 American women each year, should consider taking estrogen, citing the "possibility it may reduce the risk of heart disease." Lori Mosca, lead author of the AHA guidelines, said, "This is a shift in our thinking" (Okie, Washington Post, 7/24). However, the AHA said that women using estrogen to treat symptoms of menopause or osteoporosis should not "abandon" hormone therapy (Mestel, Los Angeles Times, 7/24). "We're not saying, 'Don't start it (hormone treatment) for other reasons.' We're saying, 'Don't start it with the expectation that you will have a cardiovascular benefit, because we don't have the data to support that right now,'" Mosca said. Hormone replacement therapy includes the hormones estrogen and progestin, although women who have had a hysterectomy often only take estrogen. According to a national survey, about 17.5 million American women took hormone therapy in 1998, many to reduce the risk of heart disease (Washington Post, 7/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.