Loyola University LogoThis is a shocking piece of news for women taking birth control pills. According to Loyola University Health System neurologists, birth control pills could perhaps double the risk of stroke in women. More so, women who take birth control pills as well as smoke and have high blood pressure or have a history of migraine headaches may considerably increase their chances of stroke.

It was estimated that approximately 100 million women all across the world use birth control pills. Pills which are at present in use seem to contain much lower concentrations of estrogens in contrast to older preparations. It was observed that the relationship between oral contraceptives and stroke has been analyzed and debated for decades, and various studies have yielded contradictory results.

Senior author of the study, Dr. Jose Biller, and chairman of the Department of Neurology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine stated that, “When prescribing oral contraceptives, doctors should balance the risks and benefits for each individual patient. For a healthy young woman without any other stroke risk factors, the benefits of birth control pills probably outweigh the risks. But if a woman has other stroke risk factors, she should be discouraged from using oral contraceptives.”

It was observed that there are about 4.4 ischemic strokes for every 100,000 women of childbearing age. According to a well-performed ‘meta-analysis’ cited in the study, birth control pills could possibly increase the risk 1.9 times, to 8.5 strokes per 100,000 women. The meta-analysis is known to be combined results of multiple studies. Moreover, there seems to be one additional stroke for every 25,000 women who take birth control pills.

How oral contraceptives may possibly cause strokes is not totally understood. But two possible mechanisms appear to be the increased risks of blood clots and high blood pressure associated with oral contraceptives.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal, MedLink Neurology.