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8 July 2005
The Pill And PCOS A Bad Combo For Heart

A study appearing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has found that women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and using low-dose oral contraceptives are at an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.

In the study, from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), researchers reported that the overall estimated risk of cardiovascular events - both heart attack and stroke - among low-dose oral contraceptive users was doubled compared to non-users. But the risk increased for women suffering PCOS or metabolic disorder, according to John Nestler in the VCU School of Medicine.

The study was based on a meta-analysis of previous studies that were designed to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with the current use of low-dose oral contraceptives in the population-at-large. "The study suggests that women in general are at an increased risk of having a cardiovascular event while taking even these third-generation, low-dose, birth control pills," said Nestler.

"A number of women with metabolic syndrome or polycystic ovary syndrome already are at increased risk for heart attack, and a majority of women with PCOS are treated with low-dose oral contraceptives for a prolonged period of time," he said.

"Women using the pill are not going to automatically have a heart attack," said Nestler. "However, our findings do raise the issue of whether oral contraceptives are optimal therapy for certain groups of women who are at baseline risk or who are taking the pill for a longer time, such as women with PCOS."

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