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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 29, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Growing number of strokes due to lack of information

Young women should be aware of the risk of prescribed medication

An Oct. 24 Seattle Times article reported that the number of stroke victims has increased 25 percent during the past two decades with the increase in the U.S. occurring among the young and middle-aged [“Study: Strokes up among young,” News, Oct. 24].

The article failed to mention a plausible explanation of this increase of blood clots and strokes among young women — the widespread use of combined hormonal contraceptives, CHC’s. Recently marketed contraceptives containing drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol, such as YAZ, Zarah, Loryna and Gianvi, which promise to treat acne and symptoms of premenstrual disorder as well as provide contraception, have been especially popular with young women. Unfortunately they also carry with them a higher risk of blood clots and stroke.

According to the final report of the FDA on Combined Hormonal Contraceptives and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, issued on Oct. 27, 2011, “There has long been concern about the risk of both arterial and venous cardiovascular complications imparted by the use of combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs) in large part because of the prothrombotic effects of estrogen.

The FDA report found that the newer CHC’s, including pills containing drospirenone, the etonogestrel/estradiol vaginal ring, and the norelgestromin/ethinyl estradiol transdermal patch were all associated with an even greater risk of thromboembolism.

The fact that these CHC’s are prescribed to women as young as 10 to 14 years of age, who lack the sophistication to judge their risk, may explain the growing number of strokes among the very young.

Deborah Ummel, Bellevue

Comments | More in Health | Topics: health, Strokes

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