Young women taking the Yaz or Yasmin birth control pills should be aware that these popular contraceptives may increase their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Earlier this summer, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that combined hormonal birth control methods, such as Yaz and Yasmin, were associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke compared to other types of hormonal contraceptives.
Both Yaz and Yasmin contain a combination of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol. Drospirenone is a type of synthetic progestin that had not been used in oral contraceptives prior to the approval of Yasmin. Drospirenone can cause a spike in the blood’s potassium levels. This increase can lead to hyperkalemia, which can result in cardiac arrest.
Drospirenone contraceptives have also been linked to a higher risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In April, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the labels for Yaz, Yasmin and other drospirenone birth control pills would be updated to provide stronger information regarding their blood clot risks, after some studies indicated that these contraceptives were associated with as high as a three-fold increase in the risk of serious blood clots, including pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.
This past June, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that combined estrogen-progestin birth control products such as Yasmin and Yaz may double a woman’s risk of stroke and heart attack compared to other hormonal contraceptives. The finding was based on 15 years of data from more than 1.6 million women aged 15 to 49, and compared the heart risks from various forms of hormonal contraception. The risks were higher among women with diabetes and high blood pressure and those over age 35. The heart attack risks doubled among those aged 40 to 44 compared to those aged 35 to 39, and increased by an additional one-third thereafter.
Thousands of lawsuit alleging Yaz and Yasmin caused serious side effects are now pending in the Yaz and Yasmin products liability litigation now underway in U.S. District Court, District of Southern Illinois. Hundreds of others have been filed in state courts. The lawsuits allege that Bayer, the maker of Yaz, failed to warn of the serious risks associated with Yaz and Yasmin, including:
- Blood clots
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Heart attack
- Gallbladder disease
Bayer recently revealed that it has already settled 1,900 Yaz and Yasmin blood clot lawsuits for $406.2 million. The company also said it planned to up its reserves for Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits, and will be setting aside an additional $610 million to take care of legal costs not covered by its insurance.