BOSTON (AP) _ Estrogen pills fail to ward off new strokes in older women who have already suffered them, a study finds.
Estrogen is rarely given solely to prevent strokes, though some earlier reports suggested that it might help do this. However, the latest study found no evidence that it does any good in those at high risk because of earlier strokes.
The hormone is used mostly to prevent brittle bones and ease hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. It has also been prescribed to keep the heart healthy.
Recent studies suggest that estrogen is ineffective at preventing heart disease, which has many of the same underlying causes as strokes. Because of that, the American Heart Association recommended in July against prescribing estrogen solely to prevent heart disease and strokes.
The latest study, conducted by Catherine M. Viscoli and others from Yale University, was published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.
Doctors randomly assigned 991 women to get either estrogen or dummy pills. The women, whose average age was 71, had all suffered either full-blown strokes or mini-strokes. After almost eight years of follow-up, 99 of the women getting estrogen had suffered further strokes or had died, compared with 93 of those in the comparison group.
``The good news is that we have taken a lot of the guesswork out of treating women with strokes,'' said Dr. John R. Marlor of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which sponsored the study.