Even though all oral contraceptives have side effects, some of these medicines are more dangerous than others. Birth control pills that contain drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol hormones, like Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz and Ocella, have been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. Studies show that women taking drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol birth control pills are two-to-three times more likely to develop blood clots than women taking birth control pills that do not contain this hormone combination. These changes in the blood can lead to stroke, life-threatening clots in your legs and lungs, or even a heart attack. If you believe that you or a loved one have suffered a birth control heart attack, you may be wondering, “how did this happen, and what do I do next?”
How Can Drospirenone/Ethinyl Estradiol Cause Heart Attacks?
A birth control heart attack can happen to young, healthy women. This is because birth control pills that contain drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol can lead to major changes in the body, potentially injuring the heart. First, these drugs can cause hyper-coagulation making the blood clump. In addition, drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol can raise cholesterol levels, clogging the arteries. If a blood clot becomes lodged in the vessels of the heart, oxygen interruption results in myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack. Lastly, drugs like Yaz and Yasmin have been reported to alter delicate blood potassium levels, causing the heart to beat abnormally. In each of these cases, loss of heart function may prove fatal.
What Does the FDA Say About Drugs Like Yaz, Yasmin, and Beyaz?
The FDA studied hundreds of thousands of women using drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol birth control pills over a seven year time period. There is concrete evidence that women taking these drugs had a significantly increased risk of blood clots, especially within the first three months of treatment. In addition, the FDA advised that women as young as 35 who took Yaz, Beyaz, Yasmin, and similar drugs had elevated rates of myocardial infarction, or heart attack. The FDA has also accused Bayer, the maker of Yaz, Yasmin, and Beyaz, of including misleading statements in its advertisements for Yaz. As a result, Bayer was required to spend millions of dollars on new ads that corrected the inaccuracies.
What are the Symptoms of a Birth Control Heart Attack?
The greatest chance of surviving a heart attack lies in getting prompt treatment, preferably within minutes. Common signs and symptoms of heart attack include:
- Pain, pressure or squeezing in the left-of-center chest area
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Arm, jaw, neck or stomach pain
- Unexplainable fatigue that may last for days
Symptoms of heart attack greatly vary from one person to the next. These symptoms may be subtle, especially in women. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, you should call 911 immediately.
Medical Diagnosis and Treatment
Your doctor has many ways to diagnose a heart attack. In order to prescribe a course of treatment, your medical professional will need to determine how much damage occurred and where it happened. Common tests and examinations for heart attack include:
- Blood testing
- ECG (electrocardiogram)
- CT scan
- Cardiac catheterization
Treatment for blocked arteries usually includes surgery, drug therapy, and lifestyle changes. It’s also necessary to stop taking any potentially harmful drugs, including Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz, or Ocella. Your doctor may perform an angioplasty, using a balloon or coil to break up a clogged vessel. Alternatively, a vein may be harvested from another part of your body to bypass the diseased heart vein (bypass surgery). For an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) due to high blood potassium levels, immediate IV infusions of insulin, glucose, calcium, and other medications are generally tried first. If the potassium level is critically high, blood dialysis will be necessary.
Birth control heart attack is just one of the many risks of birth control pills containing drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol hormones. Sadly, some of the victims will never recover. Bayer has currently settled lawsuits totaling one billion dollars for injuries associated with Yaz. To learn more about your legal options, you should consult with an attorney.