Dr. Volgman explains if taking birth control can increase a woman's risk for heart disease.
That question is a very good one, and you know when we say it’s a good question, it means we don’t know the answer. So we don’t know the answer to that, but a lot of the studies that are being done with hormones and hormone replacement therapy are done by drug companies. So it’s a little harder to tease out the bias of those drug companies.
But what we are seeing is that if a woman does not have coronary artery disease, if they don’t have atherosclerosis, estrogen seems to be good for those blood vessels. But in somebody who has atherosclerosis, it is terrible for them. As you know, from the studies that increased heart attacks and strokes in the women who already had a heart attack it was very bad for them; it increased their strokes and heart attack much more.
But in the people who are young, let’s say women in their 30s and 40s, we don’t know who has plaque and who doesn’t. We don’t know which women have atherosclerosis or not, and a lot of them are taking birth control pills. So we don’t know who we’re making better or who we’re making worse. Are we going to look for atherosclerosis in every single woman that we put on birth control pill? That would be cost-prohibitive. So we don’t really know the answer to that because some women benefit from it and some women don’t.
About Dr. Volgman, M.D., F.A.C.C.:
Annabelle S. Volgman is associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Volgman graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, and received her medical doctorate degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. She received her internal medicine training at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and her cardiology fellowship training at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She was a fellow in clinical electrophysiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Illinois Masonic Medical Center under Richard Kehoe, M.D.
Dr. Volgman has published numerous abstracts and articles in multiple topics of women and heart disease as well as cardiac electrophysiology. She is currently president of the Metro Chicago Board of Directors of the AHA. She has been a prominent leader of the Go Red for Women movement and has received numerous awards from the American Heart Association. She has been listed in several lists of top doctors and was named a top doctor in the January 2008 issue of “Chicago Magazine.” She has been interviewed by numerous media about health issues and was featured in “O” magazine as Oprah Winfrey’s cardiologist.
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