You’re in the company of millions of women who have to make a decision about hormone therapy. You need to study the facts and then come to some kind of interim conclusion with your physician. On the plus side is the fact that women don’t usually suffer CHD or heart attacks before menopause. It is in the decade after menopause that we catch up to men in this regard. It appears as if prior to menopause our own natural estrogen may protect our heart by raising our level of HDL cholesterol, which is thought to sweep through our arteries and cleanse them of plaque or even prevent these fatty blockages from forming on the walls of our arteries. Other studies, including the ongoing, long-term Harvard study mentioned in questions 95 and 96, suggest that taking ERT post-menopausally may cut the risk of these women dying of a heart attack in half. By 1986, some forty-eight thousand women in the study of one hundred twenty thousand nurses had become postmenopausal. The interim report issued on the study noted that the incidence of heart attack among the group on estrogen was significantly lower than that of the group who had not taken the hormone. Yet, many physicians still agree that the use of ERT as preventive medicine for postmenopausal women is still a matter of debate.
I personally recoil at having to include such ambiguous information in this blog, but on the subject of estrogen and heart disease, there are no concrete answers yet! Some very encouraging reports are emerging, however. We are getting closer every day to the answers. In the meantime, you and your doctor need to explore what is right for you in this regard and stay alert for future research findings as science attempts once and for all to get to the heart of the matter!