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Popular Birth Control Pill is not Linked to Heart Attacks

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These popular so-called mini-pills, including brands like Micronor and Ovrette, contain the hormone progestin, and not the estrogen of traditional birth control pills; often linked to heart attacks.

The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, also held for other progestin-only birth control products, such as implants and shots.

The studies included more than 1,800 women aged 16 to 44 years on birth control and compared those to women not taking the hormones.

It's the first review to focus on mini-pills, which often cost more than $50 per month, and it does have limitations. For instance, Plu-Bureau said the number of women was small, and her group didn't separate them based on the dose of hormone or the type of progestin they took.

"I think this is very reassuring that there is no increased risk of heart attack [for some of the more popular birth control pills]" said Chrisandra Shufelt of the Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who was not involved in the review.

Millions of women worldwide take progestin-only contraceptives. While combined contraceptives, which blend progestin and estrogen, are more popular, the safety of taking combined contraceptives is still a matter of debate, Shufelt said. Two reviews of earlier research, for instance, found roughly twice the risk of heart attack among women on the Pill compared to those not on birth control.

Just two out of a million healthy women in their early 30s actually suffer a heart attack, however, so even doubling that risk still wouldn't amount to much.

Should you Switch your Birth Control Pill?

Women at increased risk of heart disease, such as those with high blood pressure and heavy smokers, might consider switching to mini-pills or another progestin-only product, said Dr. Genevieve Plu-Bureau, who led the review.

"In women without cardiovascular risk factors, I do not think that this switch would be necessary," according to Dr. Plu-Bureau.

The new work is based on results from six previous studies that examined heart attack risk in women on progestin-only birth control.


Last modified on Sunday, 24 July 2011 15:56
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