Mid-South Women Part of Women’s Health Initiative Study

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Results from a substudy of the WHI Estrogen-Alone Trial show that younger postmenopausal women taking estrogen-alone hormone therapy have less calcium plaque build-up in their arteries compared to their peers with no hormone therapy.

New results from a substudy of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Estrogen-Alone Trial show that younger postmenopausal women who take estrogen-alone hormone therapy have significantly less build-up of calcium plaque in their arteries compared to their peers who did not take hormone therapy. Coronary artery calcium is considered a marker for future risk of coronary artery disease.

Results of the WHI Coronary Artery Calcium Study are published in the

June 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The WHI is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

“These new results offer some reassurance to younger women who have had a hysterectomy and who would like to use hormone therapy on a short-term basis to ease menopausal symptoms,” noted Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, NHLBI director. “We must emphasize, however, that these findings do not alter the current recommendations that when hormone therapy is used for menopausal symptoms, it should only be taken at the smallest dose and for the shortest time possible, and hormone therapy should never be used to prevent heart disease.”

The new findings are from an ancillary study of 1,064 women who were 50-59 years of age at the start of the WHI hormone therapy clinical trial. Fifty-four women from the Mid-South were part of this study conducted by the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). Karen C. Johnson, MD, director of Clinical Trials at Preventive Medicine and principal investigator at the UTHSC WHI site, said, “Participants were randomly assigned to either 0.625 milligrams per day of conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin