Estrogen plus Progestin and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease

August 2003

Findings Summary

In the August 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, WHI published the final coronary heart disease (CHD) results for the Estrogen plus Progestin (E+P) study. The findings suggest that E+P does not protect the heart and may even increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
In final analyses, E+P use was associated with:
  • A 24% overall increase in the risk of CHD (6 more heart attacks annually per 10,000 women using E+P)
  • An 81% increased risk of CHD in the first year after starting E+P
Women who had higher baseline low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels at the beginning of the study were at particularly high risk of CHD with E+P use. No other factors significantly changed the risk of CHD while using E+P.
In conclusion, E+P does not protect the heart and may increase the risk of CHD among generally healthy postmenopausal women, especially during the first year after beginning hormones. E+P should not be started or continued to prevent heart disease.