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The AHA Revises Its HRT Guidelines

In light of recent research, the American Heart Association is clarifying its previous recommendations about estrogen or hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women.  According to the AHA, women currently taking hormone replacement therapy or HRT for the non-cardiac benefits do not need to stop. But women should not start taking hormones just because of concerns about preventing heart trouble, especially if they already have heart disease.

Doctors long believed that HRT has preventive benefits for women against heart disease. But the AHA is concerned about some conflicting evidence that has come out over the past few years.  Three different studies have suggested that while HRT does provide preventive cardiac benefits for healthy menopausal women, women who already have established heart disease or who have already had a heart attack may not get a substantial cardiac benefit.  In fact, those women may have an increased risk of cardiac problems in their first year of HRT.

[The new guidelines [published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, 7/01] represent a shift from 1999 guidelines, in which the AHA said that  doctors may consider the use of HRT to help prevent heart disease.]

Currently, various forms of HRT combining estrogen and progesterone are prescribed to about 20 million American women.  They are indicated and FDA approved to treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and to prevent or treat osteoporosis.

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Created: 9/7/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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