Postmenopausal HT may reduce risk of falls

Women who use hormone replacement therapy after menopause have better balance and are less likely to fall than nonusers.

Continuous use of hormone therapy (HT) after menopause is associated with improved postural balance.

Incidence of falls among HT users is about half that of nonusers.

Postmenopausal women who use hormone therapy (HT) have better balance and are almost 50% less likely to fall than nonusers, according to the findings of an analytical cross-sectional study from Brazil.

Two hundred twenty-five postmenopausal women between the ages of 45 and 75 years were assigned to either of 2 groups: continuous users of HT during the previous 6 months and nonusers of HT during the same period.

Almost 62% of the participants reported a fall in the previous 2 years, but HT users were about half as likely as nonusers to have fallen. No real differences existed between the groups in the number of falls that resulted in fractures or in fracture site.

Women using HT tended to be younger by about 4 years, were menopausal for a shorter period of time (5 vs 10 years), and were more likely to have normal bone mass than nonusers, all of which, the investigators concede, could have interfered with results. Nevertheless, after correcting risk for influential variables, incidence of falls remained lower among HT users than nonusers.

Although the authors could find no differences on functional assessment using the Romberg test, objective laboratory assessment using force platforms showed less amplitude in both latero-lateral and antero-posterior body oscillation and a smaller dislocation area among HT users than among nonusers.

A crouching test revealed that about half the women overall had adequate strength in the lower limbs, with no difference between the groups in muscle power in the lower limbs, particularly in the thigh muscles.

Limitations of the study, published online June 4 in Menopause, include reliance on self-report and that the women were a special population: All attended a university hospital-affiliated outpatient clinic specializing in menopausal care. Thus, the results may not be applicable to other populations.

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