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The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women

Other Factors That Affect Heart Disease

Can Younger Women Safely Take Estrogen Therapy?

You may have read media reports of updated WHI findings suggesting that estrogen-alone therapy may protect younger postmenopausal women from heart disease. Does this mean that women in their 50s should start taking estrogen to protect their hearts? The answer is still no. Here are the facts:

Researchers examined health outcomes for women in the WHI study who had undergone hysterectomies and had taken estrogen-alone therapy. For older women (ages 60 to 79) in the study, taking estrogen offered no overall protection from heart attack or coronary death. But among a subgroup of women ages 50 to 59, there was a suggestion of lower coronary heart disease risk. What do these findings mean for you?

  • If you are considering using short-term estrogen-alone therapy around the time of menopause, for the relief of hot flashes and other temporary symptoms, these findings may be somewhat reassuring.

  • But keep in mind that estrogen-alone therapy—the medication used in this study—is appropriate only for women who have had hysterectomies. Other women cannot use it, because it can cause uterine cancer.

  • This study does not change the overall conclusion from the WHI: Hormones should not be used for the prevention of coronary heart disease at any age. Hormone therapy has many other risks, including stroke and blood clots. There are far safer and more effective ways to protect your heart.

Picture of Christen and Maria Wearing Red.

"SINCE THE HEART ATTACK, I TRY TO WALK AT LEAST 4 MILES A DAY AND AVOID FOODS HIGH IN CHOLESTEROL, SALT, SUGAR, AND FAT. I KNOW HOW IMPORTANT HEART HEALTH IS,SO I TRY TO PASS THIS KNOWLEDGE AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE ON TO MY KIDS."

—  Maria

"WATCHING MY MOM DEAL WITH HEART DISEASE HAS TAUGHT ME TO BE MINDFUL OF WHAT I DO EVERYDAY."

—  Christen

Table of Contents Next: Stress and Depression

Last Updated: February 29, 2012

The Heart Truth, its logo, The Red Dress, Red Dress, Red Dress Collection, and Heart Disease Doesn't Care What You Wear—It's the #1 Killer of Women are registered trademarks of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
National Wear Red Day is a registered trademark of HHS and the American Heart Association.

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