FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Communications and Marketing
Anne W. Manning – (901) 448-4072
Sheila Champlin – (901) 448-4957
Mid-South Women Part of WHI Study:
Links Estrogen Therapy to Less Plaque in Arteries
Experts Caution that Heart Disease Effects Remain Unclear
Memphis, Tenn. (June 20, 2007) — 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™) or placebo (inactive pill). The women took assigned medication for an average of nearly seven and one-half years. Slightly more than one year after treatment ended, researchers used computed tomography (CT scan) to measure the level of calcium plaque in the women's coronary arteries. Those who had taken estrogen were 30 to 40 percent less likely to have measurable levels of coronary artery calcium compared to those on placebo.”
Dr. Johnson noted, "Although our findings lend support to the theory that estrogen may slow early stages of plaque build-up in the coronary arteries in younger menopausal women, estrogen has complex effects and other known risks such as increasing the risk of stroke and blood clots in the legs and lungs." For this reason, estrogen should not be used for the express purpose of preventing cardiovascular disease.
All women who wish to lower their risk of heart disease should make healthy lifestyle choices, such as following a diet low in sodium, saturated fat, transfat and cholesterol; maintaining a healthy weight; engaging in regular physical activity, and not smoking. In addition, they should work with their health care provider to identify and manage other known risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes.
NHLBI collaborates on the WHI with the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the National Institute on Aging, and the Office of Research on Women’s Health, which are all parts of the NIH. Wyeth-Ayerst Research provided the medication and placebo for both hormone studies.
Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at: www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.
As the flagship statewide academic health system, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is focused on a four-tier mission of education, research, clinical care and public service, all in support of a single goal: to improve the health of Tennesseans. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main campus, with its six colleges, is in Memphis. UTHSC has additional College of Medicine campus locations in Knoxville and Chattanooga. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.
This study quantifies the economic impact of the UTHSC on the economy of the state of Tennessee for FY2010.
920 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-5544
Fax: (901) 448-8640