Pulmonary Embolism From Birth Control: Symptoms & Treatment

By supplying the hormones that the body makes during pregnancy, birth control pills “trick” the body into infertility. Eggs are no longer released by the ovaries, and the uterine lining becomes inhospitable for a developing baby. When taken as directed, birth control pills work almost as well as total abstinence. Unfortunately, a number of popular birth control pills have been linked to potential problems. Some of these side effects are mild or temporary, while others can be serious, including blood clots and pulmonary embolism.

What’s The Problem with Birth Control Pills like Yaz, Yasmin and Beyaz?

Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz, Ocella, and a number of other birth control pills contain a combination of the synthetic hormones drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Part of a newer generation of oral contraceptives, these brands claim to provide greater relief for the discomforts of menstruation, not just the prevention of pregnancy. Unfortunately, drugs containing drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol have proven more dangerous than other types of birth control pills.

While all oral birth control pills can have cardiovascular side effects, in drugs like Yaz, Yasmin and Beyaz the risks are amplified. The FDA has reported that complications from excessive blot clots happen two to three times as often with this newer class of birth control pills. In addition, reports of stroke, heart attack, DVT (deep vein thrombosis), and pulmonary embolism from birth control pills like Yaz and Yasmin are common.

 What is Pulmonary Embolism?

Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot forms, usually in the veins of the legs, and travels into an artery in the lung. The resulting blockage prevents blood from picking up oxygen and delivering it to tissues and organs. The brain, heart, and other vital systems will cease to function without oxygen, often within minutes. Therefore, recognizing pulmonary embolism early increases the chances of survival. As a result, it’s important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling anxious or panicked
  • Coughing up blood or bloody tinged foam
  • Sudden weakness
  • Chest pain, especially with coughing and breathing
  • Heart palpitations (fast heart beat or fluttering)
  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Pale or blue skin

Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency. You should call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms. Do not try to drive yourself or a loved one to the hospital, since an ambulance can provide lifesaving interventions during transport.

How is Pulmonary Embolism Diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you’ve suffered a pulmonary embolism, there are a number of tests to confirm it. In addition to a physical assessment, common diagnostic tests for pulmonary embolism include:

  • Blood testing
  • CT scan
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Lung scan

What is the Treatment for Pulmonary Embolism?

Treatment for pulmonary embolism from birth control pills should be started as soon as possible. In many cases, medicines that thin the blood (heparin/warfarin) and break up clots (thrombolytics) are prescribed. Alternatively, the clot can be broken up with a thin suction tube or removed surgically. Filters may be placed in the arteries to prevent new clots from reaching the lungs. The road to recovery after pulmonary embolism may be difficult, and may involve hospitalization and disability.

If you or a loved one has suffered a pulmonary embolism from birth control pills, such as Yaz, Yasmin, Beyaz, and Ocella, you are not alone. Thousands of women (or their families) have taken legal action against Bayer and other birth control manufacturers. As a result, Bayer has set aside approximately one billion dollars as compensation for injuries and deaths related to birth their control pills.