The effects of combined oestrogen/progestin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on platelet aggregation were studied using women on HRT or placebo. The study involved 32 postmenopausal women (aged 50–75 years) who were enrolled in a double-blind randomized controlled trial, and who received either oral continuous combined HRT (Kliogest®; 2 mg of oestradiol+1 mg of norethisterone) or placebo for a minimum of 6 months. Platelet aggregation was measured by whole-blood impedance aggregometry in response to the agonists collagen, arachidonic acid and ADP. To determine whether the effects of oestrogen on platelets were influenced by platelet-derived nitric oxide, exposure to collagen was repeated in the presence of the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA). Mean platelet volume was similar in the two groups. Compared with the placebo group, the women on HRT had similar rates and maximum values of platelet aggregation in response to collagen, arachidonic acid and ADP. Addition of L-NMMA did not alter the aggregation response to collagen in either the HRT or the placebo group. In conclusion, postmenopausal women on oral combined continuous HRT comprising oestradiol and norethisterone had similar whole-blood platelet aggregation rates and maximum platelet aggregation responses to higher doses of platelet agonists when compared with those on placebo. The endogenous platelet nitric oxide system did not appear to affect aggregation in either group.

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