Menopausal hormone therapy and coronary heart disease: the roller-coaster history.

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In the USA it is estimated that more than one million women become menopausal each year. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of mortality in menopausal woman globally. The majority of perimenopausal to postmenopausal women experience bothersome symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, mood liability, sleep disturbances, irregular bleeding and sexual dysfunction. While menopausal hormone therapy (HT) effectively treats most of these symptoms, use of HT has become confusing, especially related to CHD risk. Despite years of observational and retrospective studies supporting a CHD benefit and improved survival among HT users, the Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) raised doubts about this long-held premise. The timing hypothesis has since emerged and states that when HT is initiated in younger women, soon after menopause onset, there may be cardiovascular benefit. The following review discusses the roller-coaster history of HT use as it pertains to CHD in postmenopausal women. Studies that highlight HT's CHD benefit are reviewed and provide reassurance that HT utilized in appropriately selected younger postmenopausal women close to the onset of menopause is safe from a cardiovascular perspective, in line with consensus recommendations.

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Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society





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