The number of myocardial infarctions, or heart attacks, in menopausal women each year appears to be going down because the popularity of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has declined. A new study, which appears in the May issue of the journal Medical Care, looked at whether the decreased use of HRT has affected the rate of cardiovascular health outcomes. It certainly looks like a positive trend for women's health.
Before 2002, physicians believed that HRT reduced the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50 percent in menopausal women. However, a report by the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 revealed that HRT actually had the opposite effect — it increased the risk of heart attack in these women. As a result, the use of HRT has "declined dramatically in women aged 50 to 69, going from more than 30 percent to less than 15 percent,” said lead study author Kanaka Shetty, M.D.
Shetty (RAND Corporation in Santa Monica) and colleagues evaluated data from 1990 to 2005 for women between the ages of 40 and 79. The researchers used U.S. death records, hospital discharge data and national surveys of medication usage.
They found that the decreased use of HRT did not reduce the number of hospitalizations or deaths from stroke. However, it was indeed linked to a decrease in heart attacks among women.
The study found that for every 10,000 additional HRT users in one year, there will be 25 more heart attacks.