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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Birth Control Pills, Hormone Therapy, and Coronary Artery Disease
Women have unique risk factors for heart disease. Two of these are birth control pills and hormone therapy.
Birth control pills
Healthy, young, nonsmoking women probably do not increase their risk
coronary artery disease (CAD) when they take low-dose
birth control pills (oral contraceptives).
But if a woman has other
significant risk factors for CAD, taking birth control pills may further
increase this risk. For instance, birth control pills are more likely to
increase a woman's risk if she is older than 35 and smokes cigarettes. Birth control pills may raise "bad" cholesterol (low-density
lipoprotein, or LDL) and lower "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or
estrogen with or without
progestin does not prevent coronary artery disease. In
fact, if you are 10 or more years past
hormone therapy may raise your risk of coronary artery
Talk to your doctor about your risks with
hormone therapy. And carefully weigh its benefits against the risks of taking
it. If you need relief for symptoms of menopause, hormone therapy is one choice
you can think about. But there are other types of treatment for problems like
hot flashes and sleep problems.
For more information see Women and Coronary Artery Disease.
Rossouw JE, et al. (2007). Postmenopausal hormone
therapy and risk of cardiovascular disease by age and years since menopause.
JAMA, 297(13): 1465–1477.
Other Works Consulted
Charney P (2011). Women and coronary artery disease. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's The Heart, 13th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2226–2240. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Mosca L, et al. (2011). Effectiveness-based guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women 2011 update: A guideline from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123(11): 1243–1262.
April 6, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
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