AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


Birth Control Pills Increase Risk of Ischemic Stroke

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But Risk is Very Small for Women without Other Stroke Risk Factors, Loyola Neurologists Report


Oral contraceptives increase the risk of ischemic stroke, but this risk is very small among women who do not have other stroke risk factors, according to a comprehensive review by Loyola Medicine stroke specialists.

Birth control pills do not increase the risk of hemorrhagic strokes, wrote neurologists Sarkis Morales-Vidal, MD, and José Biller, MD. Ischemic strokes, which account for about 85 percent of all strokes, are caused by blood clots. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding in the brain.

Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain why oral contraceptives increase stroke risk, including by raising blood pressure and by making blood hypercoagulable (more likely to clot).

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