Risk of cardiac and stroke death increases after discontinuing hormone therapy

November 8, 2017

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

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

One in five patients report discrimination in health care

December 14, 2017
Almost one in five older patients with a chronic disease reported experiencing health care discrimination of one type or another in a large national survey that asked about their daily experiences of discrimination between ...

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.