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Birth control pill causes heart attacks in some women

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(NaturalNews) Birth control pills already known to increase the risk of stroke could also increase the risk of heart attacks in up to 25 percent of young women who take them, suggests the recent case of a 23-year-old nurse.

Sarah Brison woke up one day in excruciating pain, barely able to move and losing her vision.

"Everything went blurry then, within seconds, I lost my vision completely," she said, according to the UK Daily Mail.

"I couldn't feel my limbs, had no control over my body and I was sweating uncontrollably. The pain was unbearable. It was like brain freeze except it was all over my chest, as if someone was pressing down on me with all of their weight."

Body was "shutting down"

"They say your hearing is the last sense to go before you die. Everything else had gone. I felt like my body was shutting down," she said.

It never occurred to Brison — an athletic young woman who regularly visited the gym and who had played semi-professional soccer when she was younger — that she might be having a heart attack. She decided she was having a panic attack. When her boyfriend called an ambulance she apologized for wasting the paramedics' time, the paper reported in online editions.

At the hospital, however, doctors discovered an abnormal heartbeat and dangerously low blood pressure. Further tests found blood clots clogging the vessels leading to her heart. She'd had a heart attack, they told her.

"I just kept asking the doctor how it could have happened. I was 23," she said. "Surely 23-year-olds didn't have heart attacks? I kept asking if I was going to die."

A quarter of women at risk?

Doctors eventually discovered that Brison had a relatively common health condition known as Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), a small hole between the top two chambers of her heart. While this hole exists in all babies in the womb, it typically closes shortly after birth. In about 25 percent of people, however, the hole remains open.

Most people with PFO never experience health problems as a result, and typically never learn about the condition. The opening in the heart does, however, place them at increased risk if they develop blood clots, which can block the opening and cause a heart attack.

In Brison's case, her blood clots were caused by a recent switch to a high-estrogen combined contraceptive pill (Marvelon). This type of birth control is known to increase the risk of blood clots, and has been shown to thereby increase women's risk of stroke. Because Brison had an underlying health condition, in her case the clots led to a heart attack.

Presumably, any of the 25 percent of women with PFO could be at increased heart attack risk from taking such contraceptive pills.

Ironically, Brison thought she had done due diligence in researching the risks of her new birth control pill.

"I had heard about it being linked with an increased risk of blood clots so I asked my doctor if it was safe," she said. "But my GP told me it would be highly unlikely anything would happen."

Brison spent six days in the hospital before being discharged. She now needs to get regular check-ups and take medication including blood-thinning drugs, possibly for life. She carries an emergency spray, is getting counseling to deal with her traumatic experience, and may eventually need to get surgery to close the PFO.

She has begun fundraising for the British Heart Foundation.

"Having a heart attack has changed my outlook on life. It's made me see what's important," she said.

"I still have a long road ahead of me but if I can warn just one other girl about the dangers of the Pill, it'll be worth it."

Sources for this article include:


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