HRT stroke risk research released
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches may be safer than tablets, researchers have said.
Patches containing a low dose of the hormones oestrogen or progesterone, or both, carry less risk of stroke than if HRT is taken in tablet form, they said.
However, the risk increases significantly with high-dose patches - with women up to 90% more likely to suffer a stroke than if they are not on HRT.
Meanwhile, women on HRT tablets have a 28% higher risk of stroke than none-users, regardless of whether their tablets contain a high or low dose of either or both of the hormones.
HRT replaces the female hormones which are lost when a woman goes through the menopause.
Oestrogen regulates a woman's periods but also plays an important role in maintaining body temperature and protecting bones.
The loss of oestrogen causes many of the symptoms linked to the menopause, including hot flushes, low sex drive, mood changes, bone thinning and night sweats.
Progesterone is essential for getting the womb ready for a possible pregnancy but its loss does not have the same dramatic effect on women as the loss of oestrogen.
HRT controls all these symptoms and can help cut the risk of a woman developing osteoporosis and bowel cancer.
However, HRT has been found to slightly increase the risk of stroke, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer.