… continued from previous blog post posted May 28, 2015…
The ELITE trials studied 643 women. About half of the women had entered menopause within the last five years, and the other half of the women had entered menopause about ten years prior. Some of the women received estrogen, others received a placebo. The women were studied over a course of six years. During this time, an ultrasound was used to measure the specific thickness of the “carotid intima-media.” This is just the technical word for one of the major arteries in the heart. Doctors and researchers wanted to see if the timing of Hormone Replacement Therapy had an effect on which women had more plaque build up and which ones had less.
In her presentation in April of this year, Dr. JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH summarized some of the preliminary findings from the ELITE trial. (The preliminary data was presented at the American Heart Association meeting in November of 2014.) Dr. Manson said the “data really do provide strong evidence for the timing hypothesis (1),” and went on to state that women who begin Hormone Replacement Therapy within six years after menopause begins will benefit the most. The women who began taking hormones within the first six years showed a slowing of the progression of atherosclerosis. The women who waited ten years after menopause to begin taking hormones did not have any slowing of the plaque build up.
So, what does this mean? Well first it means that prescribing estrogen to women in menopause can have a positive effect on the heart by slowing atherosclerosis. But it is only beneficial in that way if we do it within the first six years after menopause begins. This means when we’re thinking of which women are the best candidates for Hormone Replacement Therapy, we need to consider how many years it has been since the onset of menopause. In addition to biomarkers like blood pressure, cholesterol level, and blood sugar, we also need to consider timing.
For more information on Dr. JoAnn Manson and the ELITE trials, or to watch a video about this information, please visit: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837535
(1) Which Women Are the Best Candidates for HRT? Medscape. Apr 10, 2015.