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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2000;900:215-27.

Contraception in women at high risk or with established cardiovascular disease.

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Cardiology Department, Hippokration Hospital, University of Athens, Greece.


Oral contraceptives are one of the most effective and widely used reversible contraceptive methods. Over 90 million women worldwide, including over 44 million in developing countries, are now using oral contraceptives. Despite their advantages, there is concern about the links between combined oral contraceptives and the risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk attributable to oral contraceptive use in women < 35 years of age is small, even if they smoke, but there are substantially increased risks in older women who both smoke and use oral contraceptives. Differences between oral contraceptive types in the relative risk of venous thromboembolism contribute little to the total cardiovascular mortality associated with oral contraceptive use, even though the total number of cardiovascular events is increased. It is important to consider the user's age and smoking status when determining oral contraceptive-attributable risks. Hormonal oral contraceptives have changed and now contain lower doses of estrogen and progestagen.

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