A recent study was released from Finland designed to evaluate the risk of death due to heart disease, stroke, or any disease among users of an estrogen-based hormone therapy. Almost 500,000 women were followed from 1994 to 2009 (a total of 3.3 million years of hormone exposure).
A total of 28,734 women using hormones died during the study. Heart disease was responsible for 3,843 deaths and 2,464 deaths were due stroke. This risk was compared to an age-matched population of non-hormone users over 1, 3, 5, and 10+ years of hormone users.
The risk of heart disease was reduced by 18-54% in patients on hormone therapy, and had a positive relationship to the time of hormone exposure.
The risk of stroke decreased by 18-39% in the group using hormones.
Risk of all-cause mortality was reduced in the hormone users by 12-38%, and had a strong correlation with the duration of hormone use.
In this study, the risk reduction occurred without regards to the age of initiating hormone therapy. However, the benefits are magnified by starting hormones close to the onset of menopause.
Raj Syal, MD