Stroke and Use of Low-Dose Oral Contraceptives in Young Women: A Pooled Analysis of Two US Studies

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Abstract

Background and Purpose

The available data on low-dose oral contraceptive pill (OCP) use and stroke risk in US women are limited by small numbers. We sought more precise estimates by conducting a pooled analysis of data from 2 US population-based case-control studies.

Methods

We analyzed interview data from 175 ischemic stroke cases, 198 hemorrhagic stroke cases, and 1191 control subjects 18 to 44 years of age.

Results

For ischemic stroke, the pooled odds ratio (pOR) adjusted for stroke risk factors for current use of low-dose OCPs compared with women who had never used OCP (never users) was 0.66 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.29 to 1.47) and compared with women not currently using OCPs (nonusers) the pOR was 1.09 (95% CI, 0.54 to 2.21). For hemorrhagic stroke, the pOR for current use of low-dose OCPs compared with never users was 0.95 (95% CI, 0.46 to 1.93) and compared with nonusers the pOR was 1.11 (95% CI, 0.61 to 2.01). The pORs for current low-dose OCP use and either stroke type were not elevated among women who were >or=to35 years, cigarette smokers, obese, or not receiving medical therapy for hypertension. pORs for current low-dose OCP use were 2.08 (95% CI, 1.19 to 3.65) for ischemic stroke and 2.15 (95% CI, 0.85 to 5.45) for hemorrhagic stroke among women reporting a history of migraine but were not elevated among women without such a history. Past OCP use (irrespective of formulation) was inversely related to ischemic stroke but unrelated to hemorrhagic stroke.

Conclusions

Women who use low-dose OCPs are, in the aggregate, not at increased risk of stroke. Studies are needed to clarify the risk of stroke among users who may be susceptible on the basis of age, smoking, obesity, hypertension, or migraine history. (Stroke. 1998;29:2277-2284.)

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