Dr. Goldberg shares if postmenopausal hormone therapy is likely to harm a woman's heart.
Postmenopausal hormone therapy can really hurt the heart of a woman who has had a heart attack. We have several large studies that have really shown that hormone therapy does not prevent heart attacks. Hormone therapy is best used to treat menopausal symptoms, and that is its primary use.
Hormone therapy actually increases the risk for a second heart attack and strokes in women who have had heart disease, and in women without heart disease, hormone therapy, there was one study called the Women’s Health Initiative that took what appeared to be healthy women who weren’t symptomatic of heart disease, but they were about 15 years into menopause, and some of the women in the study got estrogen alone because they’ve had hysterectomies, and if you had a hysterectomy, you can take estrogen alone.
The second group got estrogen and progesterone, both synthetic compounds of estrogen and progesterone, and in those studies, particularly the estrogen and progesterone, we found that even women who weren’t having symptoms of heart disease, when they took the hormone therapy, they had an increased risk for heart attack and stroke and the estrogen alone group, it had no effect on their risk for heart disease.
But when we looked more closely at the study, we found that it may not have been the hormones in those healthy women, but it may have been their age and the fact that maybe they had risk factors for heart disease that weren’t picked up. So I think, when a woman is considering hormone therapy, and there are very good reasons to take hormone therapy because you can’t sleep at night, and you’re constantly having hot flashes, and you have vaginal dryness and these are "quality of life" issues. So, do something good for yourself. Get evaluated for your heart disease risk factors and do it smart; smart and safely.
About Dr. Nieca Goldberg, M.D.:
Dr. Nieca Goldberg is a cardiologist and a nationally recognized pioneer in women’s heart health. Her New York City practice Total Heart Care focuses primarily on caring for women. Dr. Goldberg is Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of NYU Women’s Heart Program, the Co-Medical Director of the 92nd Street Y’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red” campaign – an association for which she has volunteered for over 15 years and been a board member in NYC. She was formerly the Chief of Women’s Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.