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June 6, 1977

Cardiovascular Hazards of Oral Contraceptive Use

Author Affiliations

National Heart Institute Framingham, Mass

JAMA. 1977;237(23):2530-2531. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270500082040

Women have long enjoyed a relative immunity to cardiovascular disease compared with men; the lag in incidence for all types of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is about ten years. For myocardial infarction, and for sudden death in particular, it is 20 years. In women, less cardiovascular disease develops; it develops later in life and in a less severe form. This female advantage is not a consequence of a lower level of exposure to cardiovascular risk factors, for at any level of the known major risk factors, women have a distinct advantage over men. However, the women's risk is still distinctly related to the same major risk factors (level of blood pressure and blood lipids and carbohydrate tolerance) as in men. A few things are capable of obliterating this female advantage: diabetes, familial hypercholesterolemia, advanced age, and menopause.1

Now, however, there is a new threat to this female immunity