A report initially published in Medlink Neurology in 2003 has been updated to highlight the links between hormonal contraception and strokes.
A distinction is made between the different types of stroke: haemorrhagic strokes, the frequency of which does not appear to be recorded, and ischemic strokes, which are far more common (accounting for 85% of strokes). The use of oral contraceptives increases blood pressure and makes the blood far more hypercoagulable (more likely to clot).
The report concludes that hormonal contraceptive use “should be discouraged” if women present other risk factors of cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include arterial hypertension, smoking and migraines, especially migraines with sensory disturbances such as flashing lights and tingling in the hands or face.
This report also highlights the need to improve doctor-patient relationships: 15% of patients who have been informed of the potential risks by their doctor nevertheless continue to take oral contraceptives.