Risk of cardiac and stroke death increases after discontinuing hormone therapy

November 8, 2017, The North American Menopause Society

Hormone therapy (HT) continues to be a hotly debated topic. The benefits of estrogen to the heart, however, appear to be universally accepted. A new study demonstrates that the risk of cardiac and stroke death actually increases in the first year after discontinuation of HT. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Since publication of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) , there has been significant disagreement over the various risks and benefits of HT. What remains relatively unchallenged is the fact that estrogen has rapid beneficial vascular effects and that shorter periods between the onset of menopause and the initiation of HT provide greater protection against cardiovascular disease. This beneficial relationship between HT and protection against heart disease has led to the speculation that withdrawal from HT could result in clinically significant changes in arterial function. Although previous studies have shown that termination of estradiol-based HT led to significant increases in the risk of cardiac and stroke deaths, particularly during the first year, these results were questioned because women with documented heart problems had not been excluded from the study.

This study, however, involving more than 400,000 Finnish women excluded women with prior cardiac or stroke events. The results of the study, published in the article "Increased cardiac and stroke death risk in the first year after discontinuation of postmenopausal ," showed that discontinuation of HT was associated with an increased risk of cardiac and stroke death during the first posttreatment year, especially in women who discontinued HT aged younger than 60 years. This increased risk was not observed in women aged 60 years or older at the time of discontinuation.

"Since the initial Women's Health Initiative reports, studies have shown that hormone therapy has many benefits and is safer than originally thought. This is especially true for symptomatic menopausal women younger than age 60 and within 10 years of menopause, as these women had fewer heart events and less risk of mortality," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. "This new study suggests that younger women may have a higher risk of disease and during the first year of discontinuation. Thus, and their healthcare providers need to consider the benefits and risks of starting and stopping hormone therapy before making any decisions."

Explore further: Hormone therapy may benefit migraine sufferers without increased risk of heart disease

Related Stories

Hormone therapy may benefit migraine sufferers without increased risk of heart disease

October 11, 2017
Migraine headaches are common among women, but due to various health risks can be challenging to treat in the elderly. While hormone therapy is effective in relieving many menopause symptoms, its safe use in women with migraines ...

NAMS 2017 position statement updates guidelines for hormone therapy use

June 20, 2017
A new position statement on the use of hormone therapy (HT) for menopausal and postmenopausal women from The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) has been published online today in the Society's journal, Menopause. "The ...

Women can breathe sigh of relief when using vaginal estrogen to treat menopause symptoms

October 11, 2017
News flash... hot flashes aren't the only bothersome symptom of the menopause transition. Many postmenopausal women also experience sexual dysfunction and urinary problems that don't require estrogen pills but, rather, can ...

Despite effectiveness women remain skeptical of hormones at menopause—what's the problem?

October 11, 2017
Women today have more options than ever before for treating their menopause symptoms, although hormone therapy still ranks as the most effective treatment for debilitating symptoms such as hot flashes. A new study demonstrates, ...

For post-menopausal women, vaginal estrogens do not raise risk of cancer, other diseases

August 16, 2017
Women who have gone through menopause and who have been using a vaginal form of estrogen therapy do not have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer than women who have not been using any type of estrogen.

Traumatic events take toll on the heart

October 11, 2017
Today it seems about everything has been shown to lead to heart disease. Of course smoking is bad for you, as is high blood pressure. There's even mounting evidence that psychosocial factors can cause heart problems. A new ...

Recommended for you

Study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins

July 20, 2018
When it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle—nature or nurture—more important? Researchers at San Francisco State University, CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly, Pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying ...

Secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

July 20, 2018
The study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke—causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Sugar improves memory in over-60s, helping them work smarter

July 18, 2018
Sugar improves memory in older adults – and makes them more motivated to perform difficult tasks at full capacity – according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.