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HRT and Mental Function

A recent review of the literature sponsored by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality ["Hormone replacement therapy and cognition: systematic review and meta-analysis"; E. LeBlanc et al; JAMA 3/21/01] may clear up some of the confusion about the impact that hormone replacement therapy may have on improving mental function in postmenopausal women: this review concluded that HRT improves some areas of mental function in postmenopausal women who have menopausal symptoms, but HRT does not have a clear mental benefit in women without symptoms. 

In women with menopausal symptoms-such as fatigue, depression, sleep disturbances, and hot flashes--HRT improved several areas of mental function including verbal memory, the ability to pay attention, reasoning, and reaction time.  In women without menopausal symptoms, HRT did not have any consistent effect in these areas.  The researchers proposed that HRT benefited the symptomatic women most because it helped them sleep better, improved their mood disturbances, and reduced the number of disruptive hot flashes they experienced. 

These researchers also reviewed a meat-analysis of 12 observational studies which suggested that HRT was associated with a 34% decrease in risk for Alzheimer's disease.  For more information, click here.

Created: 10/26/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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