Oral Contraception – A Cause of High Blood Pressure in Women?
A medical study recently conducted by the University of Western Australia has concluded that the female contraceptive pill may be one of the causes of high blood pressure in women.
The most vulnerable group of women were those who took the contraceptive pill during their teenage years, these women may be almost twice as likely to develop hypertension during the later years of their lives.
This information does not come as a surprise to many medical research groups, it has long been known that one of the many side effects of the contraceptive pill is high blood pressure. But what really surprised the Australian researchers was how quickly a change in a woman’s blood pressure can occur.
Teenage Girls – More Likely to Suffer Elevated Blood Pressure Levels
Teenage girls who had only been taking the pill for as little as three months experienced small elevations in their blood pressure. A normal blood pressure for a teenage girl is around the 115/75 mm Hg (milligrams of mercury) and 125/80 mm Hg, girls who used the contraceptive pill where an average of 3 – 5 mm Hg above this range. While this alone is not enough to push someone into the hypertensive range, this small risk factor could be problematic for someone who is already experiencing hypertension or close to the hypertensive range.
This study by the University of Western Australia is backed up by a separate investigation carried out by Cardiologist Doctor Chi Le-Ha, the study, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology came to the same conclusions.
But Why Do Birth Control Pills Cause High Blood Pressure?
Doctors and researches hypothesize that the hormones contained in birth control pills are the reason they effect blood pressure levels. The two main hormones used in the majority of oral contraceptives are progesterone and oestrogen.
When the contraceptive pill first became available there was very little data to show whether prolonged use would cause any adverse effects. But through an unprecedented forty-plus year study, scientists think that modern contraceptive pills are very safe.
Older contraceptive pills contained much higher levels of estrogen and progesterone. This causes some women to suffer from serous side effects. Some women who took the pill in it’s early introduction were found to be more than twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack.
Combining Factors That Can Cause High Blood Pressure in Women
While most healthy women will retain a normal blood pressure when taking the contraceptive pill, women who have underlying medical conditions or engage in unhealthy activities are more likely to develop hypertension as a result.
Women who smoke, have excess bodyweight or are obese are more likely to suffer complications as a result of taking the pill. In fact, smokers who us the contraceptive pill have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, blood clots and heart attacks.
Get Your Blood Pressure Checked Regularly
If you are taking an oral contraceptive or are exposed to any go the known causes of high blood pressure in women, it is important that you monitor your blood pressure regularly. This can be done at home with a personal blood pressure monitor or through regular visits to your doctors office.