Papers And Short Reports

Blood pressure and contraceptive use

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 285 doi: (Published 07 August 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;285:403
  1. Kay-Tee Khaw,
  2. W S Peart


    In a survey of 461 women routinely attending family planning clinics those taking oral contraceptives had significantly higher mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures than those using non-hormonal contraception. There appeared to be a dose-response relation of blood pressure to the progestogen component of two oral contraceptives with an identical 30 μg ethinyloestradiol component. This supports the idea that the progestogen as well as the oestrogen component has an aetiological role in the rise in blood pressure. There was a significant correlation of blood pressure with duration of current use of oral contraceptive but not with total duration of use. There was also a significant negative correlation of blood pressure with time since oral contraceptives were last taken, and women who had stopped using oral contraceptives over a month previously had similar blood pressures to those who had never taken them. In women taking oral contraceptives those who had either a history of hypertension in pregnancy or a family history of hypertension had significantly higher mean blood pressures than those who did not. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures correlated independently with weight and body mass index, but controlling for the effect of this and age did not affect the above relations. No significant differences in mean blood pressures were found between different ethnic groups, and there was no relation of blood pressure to reported marital state, social class, parity, smoking, or alcohol use.

    Any oral contraceptive that has a less adverse effect on blood pressure has implications for general prescribing policy; thus even small differences in the progestogen contents of low-dose oestrogen pills may be important.