Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth (NYSE:WYE), provides comment on the Women?s Health Initiative (WHI) Coronary Artery Calcium Study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
The study found that younger menopausal women (aged 50-59) who received a standard dose of oral conjugated estrogens had significantly less coronary artery calcification at the end of the study period compared with those taking placebo.
Coronary artery calcification is a marker of plaque in the arteries and a predictor of future cardiovascular events.
?In the five years since the WHI study ended, new data have emerged that help put the initial findings into perspective. These results showed that in these younger menopausal women, estrogen therapy reduced calcified plaque buildup in the arteries,? says Howard Hodis, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine; Director, Artherosclerosis Research Unit, University of Southern California. ?These data support initiation of estrogen therapy, where indicated when a woman first enters menopause and begins experiencing symptoms and bone loss.?
Wyeth is unaware of any coronary artery calcification data for women taking estrogen plus progestin. The investigators did not study coronary artery calcification in women who were over 60 at the beginning of the study.
These findings are consistent with a recent re-analysis of pooled estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin data from the WHI study, published April 4, 2007, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This study found no apparent increase in coronary heart disease for women who initiated hormone therapy within 10 years of menopause; and a statistically significant reduction in total mortality among women aged 50-59 in the group receiving hormone therapy compared with those in the placebo group.
?The recent pooled analysis published in JAMA provides reassurance about coronary artery disease to newly menopausal women considering estrogen plus progestin therapy or estrogen alone therapy for symptom relief and prevention of postmenopausal bone loss. The data published today in NEJM provide additional evidence for women considering estrogen alone therapy,? says Joseph Camardo, M.D., Senior Vice President of Global Medical Affairs for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. ?We hope this information can help clarify the clinical perspective for women who choose hormone treatment for menopausal symptoms and prevention of osteoporosis.?
The authors conclude, ?Hormone therapy should not be initiated (or continued) for the express purpose of preventing cardiovascular disease in either younger or older postmenopausal women.? The authors further state, ?The current recommendations from many organizations that hormone therapy be limited to the treatment of moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, with the lowest effective dose used for the shortest duration necessary, remain appropriate.? Wyeth continues to support the use of hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is not appropriate for all women. Women experiencing menopausal symptoms are encouraged to speak with their health care professional to determine whether hormone therapy might be the right treatment option for them.