The Role of Blood Platelets in Thrombosis in Relation to the Effects of Contraceptive Steroids on Platelet Function

  • R. J. Haslam


Recent epidemiological studies (1,2) have shown that use of oral contraceptives of the combined progestin and estrogen type is associated with a considerably increased risk of venous thromboembolism and cerebral thrombosis, though an association between coronary thrombosis and contraceptive use has not yet been statistically proven. As the preparations used contain one of a wide variety of progestins combined with one of only two similar estrogens (ethynyl estradiol or mestranol), it is probable, if a causal relationship exists, that the harmful component is the estrogen. This conclusion is supported by reports that use of synthetic estrogens alone to suppress lactation (3) or in the treatment of carcinoma of the prostate (4) is associated with increased risk of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. A wide range of both experimental and clinical studies have established the importance of blood platelets in both hemostasis and arterial thrombosis but, although there is considerable evidence for altered platelet function in venous thrombosis and in conditions predisposing thereto, platelets have often been ignored in this latter context. In an attempt to redress the balance this paper will be devoted mainly to an assessment of the possible roles for platelets in venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism with particular emphasis on the effects of contraceptive steroids on platelet function.


Oral Contraceptive Venous Thrombosis Platelet Function Blood Platelet Adenosine Diphosphate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Haslam
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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