This report has been updated with #1320. The medical journal, Circulation, reports that the American Heart Association states that taking estrogen after the menopause does not necessarily prevent heart attacks. Just two years ago, the American Heart Association urged doctors to consider the use of postmenopausal estrogen to prevent heart attacks.

Estrogen was recommended because women get heart attacks more than 10 years later than men. More than two dozen studies showed that women who take estrogen after menopause are less likely to develop heart attacks. In the last two years, two major studies, involving far more women than previous studies, show that estrogen does not decrease risk of heart attacks. Last month, an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that taking estrogen after menopause increased risk of heart attacks for the first year.

Estrogen does things that should help prevent heart attacks. It raises blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks. It lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and it relaxes blood vessels, but estrogen also increases risk for forming clots that block arteries and cause heart attacks.

Circulation July 24, 2001

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