What Should I Know About Combined-Hormone Birth Control: Can the Pill, the Patch or the Ring be bad for my heart?

For women under 35 with no serious risk factors for heart disease: The low-dose birth control pill and birth control ring do not appear to increase the risk of heart disease. However, women who use the birth control patch may be exposed to more estrogen and this may increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. Women who use high-dose birth control pills (more than 50 micrograms of estrogen) are at greater risk of heart disease.

For women of any age: Talking with a health care provider can help evaluate individual risk of using the birth control pill, patch or ring. In general, the following factors increase the risk of heart disease:

Smoking (greatly increases the risk for women 35 or older)

High blood pressure

High cholesterol

Diabetes

Diagnosis of stroke, or blood clots

Family history of heart disease

Weight above recommended range

For women 35 or older who smoke: Due to the high risk of heart disease, doctors advise women who smoke not to use the birth control pill, patch or ring.