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A Simple Blood Test For Hormone Replacement Therapy

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, May 22, 2008 11:55 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: HRT, Estrogen, Progesterone, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Women's Health, Hormones

Women with the right balance of cholesterol might not suffer heart problems with HRT, this study finds.


IMAGE SOURCE:  ©iStockPhoto/ mature woman/author:  Yuri_Arcurs


A simple blood test might reveal if you are right for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to fight postmenopausal symptoms of night sweats and hot flashes.

This study, part of the Women’s Health Initiative, finds that women with favorable cholesterol levels were not at an increased risk of developing heart problems from taking hormones. 

The research was conducted in 40 centers around the country.  Included were 271 cases of coronary heart disease in trials of HRT involving estrogen alone and of estrogen plus progestin.

The researchers were targeting cholesterol levels.

The ratio of “bad” cholesterol to “good” cholesterol should be less than 2.5.  When the ratio of “bad” to “good” cholesterol was higher, those women were not good candidates for hormone replacement therapy of estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin.

Elevated levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) translates to a higher risk in women who take estrogen, but not among women taking estrogen plus progestin when compared to a placebo.

Many women who suffer from postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, have been discouraged from taking HRT because of the potential side effects such as an increase in heart attack and stroke.

Researchers here find that the simple blood test might be useful in advising women if they are candidates for HRT.

Dr. Paul Bray of Jefferson Medical College says, “Instead of genetic testing or another more complicated test, we wanted to find a simple and effective way to assess the heart risk of hormone therapy. However, it should be noted that the WHI investigators have not found this test helpful in predicting the risk of stroke due to hormone therapy.”

And he adds that hormone therapy also affects other organs which must be considered when determining a risk versus benefit ratio. Besides heart disease, HRT has been linked to breast cancer, fractures and gall bladder disease.

Dr. Bray adds that any hormone replacement therapy should be used a short time at the lowest dose for symptom relief from menopause. 

A medical approach to menopausal imbalances usually focuses on estrogen. But increasingly there is a focus on the deficiency of progesterone that leads to early or difficult menopause.

I. Michael Borkin, N.M.D. is a naturopath who has studied the endocrine system.   In his paper, published in Alternative Health, September 2000, he outlines a method of restoring hormonal health that does not involve HRT.   

The HRT research was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.   Researchers were from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.

The findings are published in the June edition of American Journal of Cardiology. #

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