Editor’s note: In this editorial from the desk of PPAHS’s Executive Director, to help prevent blood clots PPAHS says that clinicians and their patients need to know who is at risk and be knowledgeable about the alternatives.
By Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)
Birth Control Pills and Blood Clots
Two women – one in the United States and one in Ireland – both recently experienced near-death experiences. Despite being separated by the Atlantic Ocean, both share a widespread practice – they both were taking birth control pills. According to a survey by the CDC, 62% of women of reproductive age are currently using contraception.
In the United States, WREG 3 News reports that 18-year-old Hailey Duncan from Memphis, Tennessee “was rushed to Baptist after she suffered a pulmonary embolism likely caused by birth control pills that blocked off most of the blood flow to her lungs. She went into cardiac arrest several times on the way to the hospital.”
In Ireland, reports BelfastLive, 21-year old Orlaith Clinton was administered blood thinners for a pulmonary embolism. Her “doctors said the birth control she had been taking since she was 16 had caused the clot.”
Birth Control Hormones
According to Women & Blood Clots, “Most birth control pills contain the hormones estrogen and synthetic progesterone, called progestin, and contribute to an increased risk of blood clots because they cause the level of clotting factors or clotting proteins in a woman’s body to increase.”
Three years ago, I wrote an article after reading about the deaths of three young women – Charlotte Foster, 23; Sophie Murray, 16; and Fallan Kurek, 21. In that article, I asked the question – is the use of birth control pills a patient safety issue?
According to the DailyNews, Charlotte Foster, 23, “was killed by brain damage caused by a blood clot she developed after taking a contraceptive pill.”
Sophie Murray, 16, “died of a rare blood clot disorder after the contraceptive pill gave her DVT on a family holiday.”
Fallen Kurek, 21, died “from [a] blood clot after taking the contraceptive pill for less than a month.”
Clinicians and their patients need to know who is at risk and be knowledgeable about the alternatives. There is a presumption that manufacturers and the regulatory authorities have done their respective jobs and ensured that these pills (as well as generally all drugs) are safe. While usually, this may be the case, this is clearly not so for every woman when it comes to taking birth control pills.