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TRUTH IN MEDICINE

Can birth control pills increase my risk of a heart attack?

Q:Can birth control pills increase my risk of a heart attack?

 

A: It’s complicated. Research has been mixed and unclear. But some studies have shown a link between high blood pressure, stroke, the risk of heart attack and birth control pills.

Chance of a blood clot is the primary reason for the increase in heart attack risk. Estrogen in birth control pills can cause blood to clot easier, which can cause a heart attack if the clot blocks blood flow to the heart.

However, birth control pills are generally safe in healthy women under the age of 35. If you’re over 40 and a smoker, there is an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. For nonsmokers, there’s really no significant increased risk as long as you have normal blood pressure.

These risks also seem to be higher in women with risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

Worried about your blood pressure and/or risk of blood clots? Consult your doctor before starting birth control pills and have your blood pressure checked every six months to ensure you stay in a healthy range.

For more information about cardiac services at South Nassau, click here.

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