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No Consensus on the Pill and Cardiovascular Risks

Mixed data on protective effects of oral contraceptives

TUESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- There is no clear consensus on the possible protective benefits of oral contraceptives against atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events, researchers report in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Chrisandra L. Shufelt, M.D., and colleagues at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, reviewed the current evidence on oral contraceptives and cardiovascular disease risk and found that evidence supports the antiatheromatous effects of oral contraceptives.

However, when the investigators looked at the impact on atherosclerosis, thrombosis, vasomotion and arrhythmogenesis, they found that there was far less data available. There is also no cardiovascular data for the newest formulations of hormonal contraception, including those with transdermal or vaginal delivery and contraceptives containing blood pressure-lowering progestins, the authors report.

"While these newer formulations might be expected to have an overall lower risk, specific study is needed. Current guidelines indicate that, as with all medication, contraceptive hormones should be selected and initiated by weighing risks and benefits for the individual patient," the authors write. "Existing data are mixed with regard to possible protection from early generation oral contraceptives for atherosclerosis; longer-term cardiovascular follow-up of postmenopausal women with regard to prior oral contraceptive use, including subgroup information regarding adequacy of ovulatory cycling, the presence of hyperandrogenic conditions, and the presence of prothrombotic genetic disorders, is needed to address this important issue."

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