Although the conventional wisdom has it that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) protects a woman's heart after menopause, two new studies show that it is in fact bad for the heart, and why.
In the first study, investigators measured Creactive protein (CRP) levels in 493 healthy post menopausal women using HRT. Compared to controls who did not use HRT, the group taking the drug had double the level of CRP (Circulation, 1999; 100: 713-6). CRP is a biochemical marker for systemic inflammation, and it is thought that high levels in women taking HRT may suggest an increased risk of vascular inflammation.
In the second study, researchers measured CRP and three other markers of inflammation among 365 women taking a variety of hormone replacement drugs. During the 36 months of the trial, all the hormone replacement preparations resulted in a sustained 85 per cent rise in CRP levels. Only one inflammation marker, Eselectin, decreased with HRT use.
Women at increased risk of cardiovascular disease may wish to re think their usage of HRT, the researchers cautioned (Circulation, 1999; 100: 717-22).