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Low-Dose Birth Control Pill May Up Heart Risk

But Researchers Say Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke Still Very Low for Most Women


Nestler points out that a woman with PCOS may end up taking oral contraceptives for several decades to treat many of the symptoms of the condition. They are also used to make menstrual cycles regular -- thought to be key in treating the condition.

Nestler says insulin-sensitizing drugs like Glucophage may be a safer alternative to contraceptives in women who may already have a higher-than-normal risk for heart disease.

"There is at least the possibility that oral contraceptives may not represent optimal therapy for PCOS and perhaps metabolic syndrome, and I think this deserves study," he says.

New York cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, tells WebMD that even young women who begin using oral contraceptives should be screened for heart disease risk. Goldberg is chief of the Women's Heart Program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and is the author of the book Women are Not Small Men: Life-Saving Strategies for Preventing and Healing Heart Disease in Women.

"When a woman is considering her birth control options, that is an ideal time to be screened for heart disease risk," she says. "If we did that on a routine basis we could identify high-risk women early and reduce heart disease later in life."


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