OBJECTIVE: Atherosclerosis is the major underlying cause of death for women with type 2 diabetes. We examined the relationship between use of postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy(HRT) and subclinical atherosclerosis among women with type 2 diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), and normal glucose tolerance. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted among 623 postmenopausal women in the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study (IRAS). Current users of HRT, n = 200, were compared with 104 former users and 319 never users. Intimal-medial wall thicknesses (IMTs) of the common carotid (CCA) and internal carotid (ICA) arteries were used as measures of atherosclerosis. RESULTS: Significant differences between HRT user groups were noted for certain demographic, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors. After adjustment for these and other coronary heart disease risk factors, current users had a 69 microm thinner ICA IMT than never users (P = 0.06). Former users had a 96 pm thinner ICA IMT than never users (P = 0.03). No significant difference was observed for the CCA. Although women with type 2 diabetes had thicker carotid IMT than women without diabetes, the association between HRT use and thinner IMT was similar in both groups. The difference between current and never users was attenuated by adjustment for HDL and LDL cholesterol. Neither duration of HRT use nor HRT regimen was associated with IMT in either artery. CONCLUSIONS: This analysis suggests that current and former use of HRT is associated with reduced atherosclerosis and that women with type 2 diabetes may receive the same benefit from HRI as women without diabetes.

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