Research Article

Oral contraceptives and fatal subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 08 December 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:1468
  1. W H Inman


    A case-control study was conducted of the deaths from subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) in women aged 15-44 in England and Wales in 1976. There was a small excess of oral contraceptive use by the women who died from SAH compared with their generally healthy practice-matched controls; this was not, however, statistically significant. Out of 134 women who died from SAH, 34 had a history of hypertension compared with only six of their controls. Renal disease and pre-eclamptic toxaemia were more commonly associated with hypertension in the dead women than in controls. No change in the annual mortality from SAH has been observed in the past 20 years such as might have been expected if the risks were high. Although current or past use of oral contraceptives may have increased the blood pressure and risk of SAH in a few women, the most important factor in determining this risk was hypertension. SAH should thus probably not be regarded as serious cause for concern in healthy non-hypertensive women using oral contraceptives.