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Danish Study Ties Birth Control to Raised Risk for Heart Attack and Stroke

Posted on June 19, 2012

A Danish study that looked into data collected on more than 1 million Danish women over a 15-year period has suggested that various estrogen-progestin birth control pills can raise the risk of heart attack and thrombotic stroke.

The study maintains the risk is still relatively low, and is virtually non-existent with progestin-only formulas. The risks were slightly higher for the vaginal ring or the patch.

The director for the University of Rochester’s Strong Fertility Center told the Huffington Post that although the risk was not large, “it’s a significant finding and we wouldn’t want to minimize that.”

The study did not look into potential increased risk for venous thrombosis.

Birth control pills containing the synthetic hormone drospirenone have been linked to an increased risk of venous thrombosis (VT) —deadly blood clots that form in a person’s veins. Studies showing increased risks of VT in patients who used contraceptives containing the hormone prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revise the labeling for Beyaz, Sayfral, Yasmin, and Yaz contraceptives to reflect those potential risks.

Bayer Ag recently agreed to pay $142 million to settle over 600 cases that alleged Yasmin and Yaz were responsible for life-threatening and sometimes fatal clots in women who used them.

Medical experts agree that certain subgroups of women should be very careful when taking birth control pills and, in some cases, should avoid taking them altogether.

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