Low dose estrogen-only HRT patch lowers stroke risk

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches that deliver low doses of estrogen via the skin pose a lower stroke risk than HRT in tablet form, new research suggests. HRT, which is prescribed to women to ease the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and a decrease in libido, has been linked to an increased risk of stroke in previous studies. But a new study has found that while the risk of stroke increased by 88% when women used high-dose HRT, low-dose estrogen-only patch did not increase the risk of stroke at all.

The study also showed that taking HRT tablets, as opposed to using the patch, increased stroke risk by 25 to 30 per cent, regardless of whether they were estrogen-only or contained progesterone. The HRT patch is therefore appearing to be a safer option over the traditional tablet.

The study is published in the June 3 online issue of the British Medical Journal.