The risks of suffering a heart attack if you're taking the contraceptive pill have been well documented but researchers have found that the risk is far greater if you are an older woman who smokes.
Women can also reduce the risk if they control their blood pressure levels, researchers from University College London Medical School conclude.
But the risks are extremely low if the woman is relatively young under the age of 35 is a nonsmoker and has normal blood pressure levels (The Lancet, 1997; 349: 1202-9).
For more information, see WDDTY vol 1, no 12; vol 5, no 8; and the WDDTY Guide to Women's Health.
nicotine patches won't stop you smoking Nicotine patches do little to help heavy smokers, and nothing for lighter smokers, researchers have discovered.
The patches, available over the counter, are supposed to wean smokers off cigarettes by drip feeding them nicotine. But in a trial in Denmark involving 552 smokers, the patches were little better than a dummy patch.
Smokers would be better off seeking counselling and other methods of personal support, the researchers concluded (Am J Epidemiol, 1997; 145: 309-18).
For more information, see WDDTY vol 6, nos 1 and 10.