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Birth Control Pills and Heart Attacks: Is there a Link?

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Reproductive System related image Photo: Getty Images

Scientists have taken a new look at whether birth control pills are tied to heart attacks. Earlier, based on reported health problems in women, it was believed that this was in fact true. But this is not so, in the case of progestin-only contraceptives, also dubbed the mini-pill.

This new information is taken from the results of a half-dozen studies conducted, and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Each study concentrated on heart attack risks in individuals taking the progestin-only birth control. More than 1,800 women, ages 16 to 44, were evaluated and measured against women who did not take hormones at all.

As reported by Reuters, doctors who participated in these studies such as Chrisandra Shufelt, of the Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, felt that this outcome is “reassuring.” This would especially be true for the millions of women who are currently taking the progestin-only contraceptives.

But this good news does not include birth control that contains progestin and estrogen. The exact safety level of this type of pill (combination) is still questioned at this time. In fact, previous studies done found that when compared to women not on the Pill at all, women who take the combination pill had approximately twice the risk of heart attacks than that of their counterparts.

Doctors still advise that women who have heart problems, smoke heavily and suffer from high blood pressure stick with the progestin-only birth control.

Additionally, the caveat to the recent development is that it is the very first review to focus solely on mini-pills and the numbers of women involved in the studies were small. Also, even though the concentration was on the mini-pill, it did not take into consideration the doses or the type of progestin taken.


Common Birth Control Pill not Tied to Heart Attacks. Reuters.com. Web. 24 November 2011.

Heart Disease Fact Sheet: Does taking birth control pills increase my risk for heart disease? Womenshealth.gov. Web. 24 November 2011.

Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer and blogger for women’s issues. Check her out at:

Reviewed November 25, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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