Hormone therapy (HT) is used by menopausal women to treat vasomotor symptoms. Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is an important risk of HT use, and more knowledge on the comparative safety of different estrogenic compounds is useful for women who use HT for these symptoms. The objective was to compare the risk of VTE among users of oral conjugated equine estrogen (CEE), oral estradiol (E2), and transdermal E2, in a cohort of women veterans.
This retrospective cohort study included all women veterans aged 40 to 89 years, using CEE or E2, without prior VTE, between 2003 and 2011. All incident VTE events were adjudicated. Time-to-event analyses using a time-varying HT exposure evaluated the relative VTE risk between estrogen subtypes, with adjustment for age, race, and body mass index, with stratification for prevalent versus incident use of HT.
Among 51,571 users of HT (74.5% CEE, 12.6% oral, and 12.9% transdermal E2 at cohort entry), with a mean age of 54.0 years, the incidence of VTE was 1.9/1,000 person-years. Compared with CEE use, in the multivariable regression model, there was no difference in the risk of incident VTE associated with oral E2 use (hazard ratio 0.96, 95% CI 0.64-1.46) or with transdermal E2 use (hazard ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.60-1.49). Results were unchanged when restricting to incident users of HT.
Among women veterans, the risk of VTE was similar in users of oral CEE, oral E2, and transdermal E2. These findings do not confirm the previously observed greater safety of transdermal and oral E2 over CEE.