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Oral Contraceptive Use Protects Against Coronary Disease Later in Life

Posted: Friday, June 02, 2006

In postmenopausal women undergoing coronary angiography for suspected myocardial ischemia, past oral contraceptive use is tied to less atherosclerotic disease, according to a new study.

"These findings suggest that a prospective study should address the hypothesis that past oral contraceptive use during the premenopausal years might offer women protection from atherosclerotic coronary disease later in life," Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues note.

The findings, are based on a study of 672 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE). Past oral contraceptive use was determined through a reproductive questionnaire.

Past oral contraceptive use was associated with a reduction in coronary artery disease severity, the report indicates. This held true even after accounting for a variety of potential confounders, including age, diabetes mellitus, lipid profile, smoking, aspirin use, and use of lipid-lowering agents.

The duration of past oral contraceptive use, however, appeared to have no bearing on the extent of reduced coronary disease seen, the report indicates.

"To our knowledge, our findings represent the first observation linking a detailed characterization of past oral contraceptive use with an accurate core laboratory assessment of angiographic coronary artery disease in postmenopausal women," the authors state.

While the findings suggest a potential protective effect for past oral contraceptive use, they should be interpreted with caution as a study group with suspected myocardial ischemia may not be representative of the general population of women, the researchers warn.


Source: Diabetes In Control: Fertil Steril 2006;85:1425-1431

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