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Contraceptives Spike Risk for Embolism in Black Women

Last Updated: June 18, 2009.

The risk for venous thromboembolism is higher among African American women who use hormonal contraceptives than those who don't, and may be further elevated for women with the sickle cell trait, according to a study reported in the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

THURSDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- The risk for venous thromboembolism is higher among African American women who use hormonal contraceptives than those who don't, and may be further elevated for women with the sickle cell trait, according to a study reported in the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Harland Austin, of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues studied a cohort of 60 African American women (mean age of 36 years) with idiopathic first-episode venous thromboembolism to determine the risk for the condition associated with the use of hormonal contraceptives, and whether the risk was affected by having the genetic sickle cell trait (defined as being heterozygous for the hemoglobin S mutation). A control group of 196 African American women (mean age of 38 years) was included in the analysis.

The investigators found that venous thromboembolism risk was substantially higher for women currently using hormonal contraceptives, compared with those not currently using them or women in the control group (odds ratio, 3.8). For the subset of women with the sickle cell trait, the risk was even higher (odds ratio, 6.7), while it was lower for subjects without the sickle cell trait (odds ratio, 2.6).

"This study provides persuasive evidence that hormonal contraceptive use increases venous thromboembolism risk among African American women and that the increase in risk may be larger among women with sickle cell trait," the authors conclude.

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