The contraceptive pill and HRT may protect against cerebral aneurysm

May 5, 2011

Women who develop cerebral aneurysms are less likely to have taken the oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy, suggesting taking oestrogen could have a protective effect, reveals research published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

Cerebral aneurysms, weaknesses in the of the brain which cause the vessels to balloon, occur more frequently in women, and it has been suggested that female hormones may play a role in their development. If the cerebral aneurysm ruptures, because the ballooning wall bursts, this can be life threatening and is known as a haemorrhagic stroke.

Oestrogen helps maintain the structure of by promoting the division of within the vessel walls, which is important for repair if the vessels become damaged. However, oestrogen levels drop significantly at the menopause.

Women have been shown to be more likely to develop a cerebral aneurysms after the age of 40 years, and aneurysms are most likely to rupture between the ages of 50 and 59 years.

The authors asked 60 women with cerebral aneurysms about their use of the and , and this was compared with usage in 4,682 other women drawn from the general public.

Women with cerebral aneurysms were found to have been significantly less likely to have taken or . Women with cerebral aneurysms also had an earlier average age of menopause.

Previous studies have shown that use of the protects against haemorrhagic stroke in later life, while women who start their periods early and/or do not have children are at greater risk.

Current medical management of unruptured cerebral aneurysms is limited and consists mainly of and . The alternative is a surgical intervention, such as the insertion of a coil or placement of a clip, to try to control the aneurysm, and a lifetime of anxiety.

The authors say that the results of this study may not only provide additional insight into how cerebral aneurysms develop and progress, but more importantly may lead to new therapies for patients, either harbouring an unruptured cerebral aneurysm or at risk of developing one, that address their underlying vascular predisposition towards aneurysms.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Robotic tutors for primary school children

October 24, 2016

The use of robotic tutors in primary school classrooms is one step closer according to research recently published in the open access journal Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.

Mouse decision-making more complex than once thought

October 24, 2016

Working with dot-counting mice running through a virtual-reality maze, scientists from Harvard Medical School have found that in order to navigate space rodent brains rely on a cascade of neural signals that culminate in ...

Rat brain atlas provides MR images for stereotaxic surgery

October 21, 2016

Boris Odintsov, senior research scientist at the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Thomas Brozoski, research professor ...

ALS study reveals role of RNA-binding proteins

October 20, 2016

Although only 10 percent of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases are hereditary, a significant number of them are caused by mutations that affect proteins that bind RNA, a type of genetic material. University of California ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.