Estrogen reduced heart deaths by up to 30 percent in older white women who took the drug for at least 10 years, researchers reported Thursday.
Most of the benefits lingered even in women no longer taking estrogen, who still had a 20 percent reduction in heart disease deaths.
The study adds to a growing body of evidence that the drug can be critically important in reducing women’s deaths from heart disease.
In November, a $20 million government study found that estrogen cut the risk of heart disease by 25 percent in women ages 45 to 64.
The new study showed that estrogen use is linked to a drop in deaths in women ages 65 to 74. The study did not find any benefits in women 75 or over, or in women who took the drug for less than 10 years, said Jane Cauley, of the University of Pittsburgh. She reported the findings at the American Heart Association epidemiology meeting.
Cauley studied 9,704 white women 65 and older, of whom 1,331, or 14 percent, reported taking estrogen for an average of about 15 years.