Keck Medicine of USC is ushering in a new era of medical research by launching a pioneering clinical trial to investigate the impact of a revolutionary hormone replacement therapy on post-menopausal cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
The latest research from the USC Atherosclerosis Research Unit has uncovered an incredible breakthrough: estrogen, a hormone that ceases to be produced in the ovaries post-menopause, may be a powerful guard against damage to the heart and brain. Led by renowned internal medicine specialist Dr. Howard N Hodis, a professor of medicine and population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the study is now exploring whether hormone therapy containing estrogen can be used to slow the progression of atherosclerosis and cognitive decline in women post-menopause.
The researchers noted that the timing of hormone replacement therapy is essential for post-menopausal women. According to Dr. Hodis, a woman's window of opportunity to see the benefits of hormone therapy is only six years or less. Beyond that, the effects of the treatment may be too late to be effective.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a revolutionary hormone therapy since 2013, made up of a combination of estrogen and bazedoxifene, a non-hormone drug. According to Dr. Hodis, "classic hormone replacement therapy traditionally pairs estrogen with progesterone, or often with its synthetic equivalent progestin, the presence of this progestin has been linked to certain cancer risks. However, bazedoxifene has been found to prevent the uterine lining from thickening whilst not presenting the same risks."
In a bid to promote better health in the post-menopausal stage, an innovative clinical trial is currently underway involving post-menopausal women between the ages of 45 and 59. In this trial, the participants will receive a non-invasive ultrasound of their neck artery as a measure of atherosclerosis and undergo several tests to gauge their cognitive and memory functions. After three years of diligent monitoring, women retake the cognitive and memory tests to determine the progress made since their initial enrollment. The follow-up is done every six months, and yearly electrocardiograms are also taken to observe potential heart conditions.
This cutting-edge trial is double-blinded and placebo-controlled, meaning neither the participants nor the researchers know who is receiving hormone replacement or a placebo. With 260 women already involved in the trial and 100 more spaces available, researchers are hopeful that the results will provide invaluable insight into the health of post-menopausal women, enabling them and their doctors to make informed decisions for the future.
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