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Blood Clots Risk In Obese Women On Birth Control Pills: What You Should Know

Body mass index (BMI) is a simple measurement of obesity that can be determined at home by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiplying by 703. A woman who is 5'6" and weighs 190 would have a BMI of 31.

A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal and healthy; 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight; 30 or more is considered obese, and 40 or more is considered extremely obese [1].

Check your BMI here.

Blood Clots Risk In Obese Women On Birth Control Pills

The risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), also called blood clots in the veins, for obese women who take oestrogen- and progestin-containing oral contraceptives are 24-fold higher than that for non-obese women.

VTE refers to a blood clot in a vein and includes two life-threatening conditions: deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism [2].

The study, published in ESC Heart Failure, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), highlighted that obesity and oestrogen-containing contraceptives are risk factors for venous thromboembolism [3].

Here are the important points from the study:

  • Obesity and using contraceptives containing oestrogens are both risk factors for VTE. Unfortunately, these drugs continue to be prescribed to obese women despite this fact.
  • Obesity and combined oral contraceptives synergistically affect VTE risk, which should be considered when prescribing.
  • This study provides clinical recommendations regarding the effects of obesity and contraception on VTE risk independently and synergistically, as well as their synergistic effects (when two or more drugs interact, their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects) [4].
  • There is an increased risk of VTE associated with combined oral contraceptives, with users having a three- to seven-fold greater likelihood of VTE than non-users. In contrast, progestin-only contraceptives are not associated with an increased risk of VTE.
  • Obese women under 40 are particularly at risk, as they are the most likely to seek contraception at this age.
  • Women carrying excess weight may find progestin-only products, including pills, intrauterine devices, and implants, to be a safer alternative to the combined pill.

Obesity And VTE Risk In Women

From 1975-2016, the World Health Organization estimates that the global prevalence of obesity nearly tripled, with 15 per cent of adult women obese. According to the World Health Organization, VTE risk increases progressively with body mass index (BMI). In obese women, it is more than twice as high as in non-obese women. A significant proportion of women under 40 are obese and have a fivefold increased risk of VTE [5][6].

On A Final Note...

A combination of overweight/obesity and oral contraceptive use increases the likelihood of women of reproductive age developing blood clots. Therefore, it is recommended that obese women taking contraceptives take steps to reduce their other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, for example, by quitting smoking and increasing their physical activity levels.

Story first published: Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 12:37 [IST]
Read more about: blood clot obesity birth control
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