Hormonal contraception increases risk of heart attack, stroke.

The Huffington Post reports, “A sweeping new Danish study” published in the New England Journal of Medicine “concludes that hormonal contraception increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, but the overall risk for individual women is very low.”

On its website, ABC News reports, “In the study, researchers looked at more than 1.6 million women over a period of 15 years and tracked all the contraceptive measures they took – including the pill, the vaginal ring, intrauterine device, subcutaneous implants, skin patches and intramuscular injections.”

The investigators “found … that although the absolute risk of stroke and heart attacks associated with the use of contraception was low, the chances of these problems occurring was 0.9 to 1.7 times higher on estrogen at a low dose. These risks increased to a factor of 1.3 to 2.3 when a higher dose of estrogen was used.”

The Boston Globe “Daily Dose” blog reports that “in absolute terms the risk is very low, because young women under age 50 rarely have heart attacks or strokes.”

MedPage Today reports, “Among other types of hormonal contraception, the vaginal ring was associated with a greater risk of thrombotic stroke (RR 2.5, 95% CI 1.4 to 4.4), but not MI. Progestin-only contraceptives and subcutaneous implants were not associated with increased risks of stroke or MI.”

WebMD reports, “In an editorial published with the study, Arizona State University researcher Diana B. Petitti, MD, MPH, writes that the Danish study should reassure women and their doctors about the safety of oral contraceptives.”

Petitti “notes that the small increase in risk could perhaps be eliminated if women with risk factors for heart attack and stroke, such as smokers and those with high blood pressure, avoided combination hormonal contraceptives.”

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