Stroke is a devastating condition, but no more so than when it strikes a young person. We think of the disease as being a condition that affects the elderly and infirm. But, cases arise involving young adults. Some conditions that lead to stroke, or cardiovascular accident (CVA), in younger patients include atrial fibrillation and carotid artery dissections. A recent article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) points to another culprit: oral contraceptives. Medical negligence cases arise out of the failure to prevent such strokes or the failure to timely treat CVA symptoms once they occur.
Drug companies learned early on that oral contraceptives increase the risk of clot formation. In an effort to reduce this risk, the drug companies experimented with different combinations and strengths of the chemical components of these so-called “combined oral contraceptives.” The BMJ article points out that, despite these efforts, the risk of clot formation currently increases from 2 to 6 times in patients using oral contraception. The average increase in risk is four-fold, according to the study. However, the risk may be even greater than that since “
In summary, “all combined oral contraceptives increase the risk of (blood clots.)” A safe alternative is a levonorgestrel intrauterine device (IUD), which does not increase the risk for blood clots. We successfully handled a case of a young woman who experienced a CVA related to prescription birth control pills. In that case, the allegations of medical malpractice arose out of the fact that the woman was prescribed an excessive dose when she had other risk factors for stroke that compounded the risk, including hypertension, obesity and smoking. The ensuing lawsuit resulted in settlement.