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Dr.Armughan Riaz
M.B.B.S, Dip Card
Consultant Cardiologist


Birth Control Pills Contraceptives and High blood pressure

Birth Control Pills Contraceptives and High blood pressure. If you are taking birth control pills your blood pressure can go high


Birth Control Pills Contraceptives and High blood pressure

If you are taking birth control pills your blood pressure can go high.

In reproductive age 15-45, many women have normal blood pressure i.e 120/80, as estrogen and progesterone, femal sex hormones have some protetive effects these hormones save females from cardiovascular problems. However as women attain menopause, the protective effects of the female hormones dwindles away exposing them to a variety of health risks.

Birth control pills for women

Birth control pills are the most common adoptive method of contraception all over world, these pills have saved many women from undesirable pregnancies. These pills are hormone based and several studies have shown safety and efficacy of these pills.

Are birth control pills and high blood pressure related?

Birth control pills or oral contraceptives contain synthetically produced estrogen and progesterone. Some contraceptive pills only have progesterone. Those pills which have both estrogen and progesterone are more prone to cause high blood pressure – but only in some women. Other women take contraceptive pills for years and have no problems with these pills. Studies show that estrogen component of the combined pills is mainly responsible for high blood pressure although a few studies conducted by the National Institute of Health have shown that progesterone birth control pills i.e mini pills, are likely to cause a small increase in diastolic pressure so increasing risk of stroke and heart attack in women.

Risk of high blood pressure in females taking contraceptives depends on following factors.

• Age at which oral contraceptives are started: If you are starting taking contraceptives at or above 35 years then you will have more chances of developing hypertension.Hence, such women need to check their pressure before starting therapy and monitor it regularly till pill use is stopped.

• Past history: In women already having blood pressure related problems, the risk is again high and hence a thorough medical examination is very important before the start of therapy.

• History of smoking: If you are a chronic smoker and are also using contraceptives, then most probably you will have problem of high blood pressure too.

If you have diabetes and you are taking contraceptives as well, then you may develop hypertension as well with time.

How women taking birth control pills can tackle the situation in the presence of the above risk factors:

• If you are above 35 years then you must get themselves thoroughly examined for present and past medical history and family history to assess if any other additional risks are present or not. If the blood pressure examination is normal then contraceptives can be begun. Regular follow up with your consultant or health care provider is necessary so that high blood pressure can be picked up.

• Positive history of blood pressure: In women who already have high blood pressure before the age of 35 years or have recent past history of blood pressure it’s probably good not to use pills. Other options for birth control would be a better choice in these cases.

• For Smokers: Smoking causes damage to the walls of the arteries and narrows their lumen by enhancing process of atherosclerosis and thus increases the blood pressure. Contraceptives can have a similar effect by causing fluid retention and thereby will augment the problem. The best thing to do is stop smoking.

If you have diabetes and also taking pills, then you should not only control your diabetes under normal levels but also regularly check your blood pressure.

For all women taking pills for birth control, it is essential that they have a regular follow up with their doctor for a complete physical examination to look for any changes in blood pressure and other things induced by the long term use of contraceptives like weight gain etc.


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