A major study, reported in March 2018, has shown that women who used menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) for three years or longer had better heart structure and function than women who did not use it. 1604 post-menopausal women were studied. 513 had used MHT starting close to the time of menopause. The rest of the women (the control group) had never used MHT.
The study is notable for the method used to study the women’s hearts, namely MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) because doctors agree that MRI is the best method available for discerning the function/malfunction of a heart. An MRI can show the size of the heart. If your heart is enlarged it cannot pump blood as efficiently and you are more prone to develop heart failure or to have a heart-attack. The women used MHT for a mean time of 8 years. Those who used it for 3 years or longer showed positive effects on heart size which persisted years after the women completed using the hormones.
Women with any of the following in their medical history were not included in this study: heart attack, angina, heart failure, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.
This study is one of several recent reports that indicate that MHT does no harm to the heart and holds the promise of reducing heart disease and mortality. The greatest benefits are seen in women who start hormone therapy close to the time of menopause. For women who undergo a surgical menopause, this means starting estrogen therapy close to the time of surgery. Estrogens act in many ways to protect arteries from developing atherosclerosis. When estrogen is started before age 60 and/or within 10 years of menopause, the risk for heart attacks and dying due to heart disease is markedly reduced.
It should be emphasized that heart disease is the leading cause of women’s mortality in the US and worldwide. All the sources of data agree on that fact. We are not giving numbers here because the numerical data found on the internet from the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control or other reliable sources is quite variable. We simply want to alert women to the importance of paying attention to their heart health. Most women know the basics; eat a healthy diet, exercise, don’t smoke. If you are post-menopausal and do not take prescription hormones, consider seeing your doctor and asking about hormone-therapy.Read more in Advancing Health After Hysterectomy