Lower dose HRT patches could help reduce stroke risk

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Lower dose HRT patches could help reduce stroke risk

4th June 2010

New research released this week suggests that Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be safer when given as low-dose patches than as pills.

A twenty year study of more than 70,000 patients revealed that HRT patches containing low doses of oestrogen - usually prescribed to relieve the symptoms of the menopause - carried a lower risk of causing stroke than the pill form.

Daniel Lee, a specialist in medical claims with Fentons Solicitors LLP, welcomed the study's results. "In recent years, several concerns have been raised about an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes associated with use of HRT," said Daniel, a partner with the firm. "Many of the cases we have seen have involved women being prescribed too high a dose of HRT, which has led to them experiencing medical problems.

"This research seems to underline the current advice, which is to take the lowest effective dose of HRT for the shortest time necessary. The study showed that those using the pill form, or oral HRT, had a 25-30% increased risk of stroke compared with those who did not use HRT at all," he said.

HRT contains oestrogen, levels of which drop during the menopause leading to hot flushes, low sex drive, mood changes, bone thinning and night sweats. Some types of HRT also contain progesterone.

"Research has already shown that the risk of stroke does increase significantly with higher-dose patches," said Daniel. "But the results of this new study showed there was no increased risk in women using low-oestrogen-dose patches compared with women who did not use HRT," he said.

Although the researchers stated that the results did not yet represent 'definitive evidence' to promote the use of patches instead of tablets, they should encourage further research to help doctors prescribe the best option.

"Anything that enables a doctor to ensure they are prescribing the right amounts of the correct medication has to be welcomed," said Daniel. "This study appears to be an important step in helping determine the safest possible treatment for women."

The overall risk of stroke associated with HRT is small and the vast majority of those who had a stroke in the study were not taking it. Daniel said that anyone who is concerned about taking HRT should consult their doctor.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims relating to clinical and medical negligence.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 019 1297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - BBC