Study Suggests Hormones Have Cardiovascular Benefits
A Dutch study of more than 2,000 women suggests that hormone supplements taken in menopause have cardiovascular benefits.
Compared with subjects who never used estrogen and progestin, women who took those hormone supplements for at least a year had a 47 percent lower risk of peripheral artery disease, or hardening of the arteries in the legs.
Peripheral artery disease affects 8 million Americans, including 5 percent of the over-50 population, according to the Society of Cardiovascular & Interventional Radiology.
It is considered a marker for heart disease in older people because most who have it also have coronary atherosclerosis, or thickening in the arteries to the heart, said Dr. Rita
Redberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a San Francisco cardiologist.
The Dutch findings suggest that the benefits remain after women stop using hormones, according to the study reported in Sept 2000 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, an American Medical Association publication.
The results of the study could have important implications for a disease that is becoming more prevalent as the population ages.
The researchers noted that other research has suggested that healthier women are more likely to use hormones. Thus, the supplements' supposed benefits could be due to "preexisting characteristics" of the users.
"We cannot exclude the possibility that some (or the whole) of our findings are based on this selection bias," the authors wrote.
Hormones and Cholesterol
Hormones have long been believed to lower the risk of heart attack by improving cholesterol levels. However, recent research suggests that there is no protective effect in users who already have heart disease.
See Also: Heart
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