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Birth control pill: some found not tied to heart disease

The traditional birth control pill has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, but what about the progestin-only "mini-pills?"

Reuters, Monday 21 Feb 2011
Views: 1324
Views: 1324

Contrary to earlier signs that women using the traditional "Pill” as birth control have a higher risk of heart disease, a new look at the medical literature found no link between heart attacks and the so-called mini-pills.

These "mini-pills," including brands like Micronor and Ovrette, contain the hormone progestin, but not the estrogen of traditional birth control pills. The results also held for other progestin-only birth control products, such as implants and shots.

"I think this is very reassuring that there is no increased risk of heart attack," 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, their safety 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.

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


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