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Yaz Heart Attack Dangers Linked to High Potassium Levels

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Yaz birth control pills may cause heart attacks by increasing the levels of potassium in the body. Hundreds of young women suffered from this severe side effect.

Introduced as a modern approach to contraception, the oral birth control pill Yaz has been proven to raise potassium levels, thus raising heart attack risks, more than any of its predecessors.

The risk from a potassium induced heart attack is so great that federal drug regulators demanded that the drug’s manufacturer, Bayer, include the information on the drug packaging and labeling.

But many women are saying that was not enough. Young women by the hundreds have suffered devastating heart attacks after taking Yaz.

With great fanfare and splashy advertising, Yaz was initially presented as the contemporary woman’s birth control. It contained a new formulation of hormones that were supposed to not only serve as contraception but also help with premenstrual issues including acne and mood swings.

Yaz Heart Attacks Linked to Increased Potassium

The drug contains a synthetic estrogen that’s used in most other birth control pills and a new type of synthetic progesterone called drospirenone. Studies show that drospirenone, which is similar in chemical makeup to a popular diuretic, can cause significantly increased potassium levels.

Potassium is an important mineral for proper cell functioning and is crucial to heart functioning. It plays a key role in smooth muscle contractions. The average adult needs about 4,700 mg a day for normal functioning. Too much potassium, called hyperkalemia, can lead to cardiac arrest and death.

Yaz Heart Attack Dangers Included on Warning Label

Yaz Can Cause Heart Attacks

Yaz Heart Attacks Linked to Higher Potassium Levels Caused by the Pill

The Yaz packaging itself shows that one of the side effects of the drug is higher than normal potassium levels. In the drug label, Bayer warned women to not take Yaz if they have kidney, liver or adrenal disease.

Also, women who take drugs that include ibuprofen, heparin and diuretics must have their potassium levels check in the first months of taking Yaz.

Even college women are being warned that, everyday tasks, such as drinking sports drinks or eating high-potassium foods and taking Yaz puts them at risk.

Drospirenone effects potassium levels by interfering with the normal functioning of the kidney, which monitors and regulates the body’s potassium levels. When the kidney function is stalled, potassium builds in the bloodstream.

Elevated potassium levels from Yaz can cause a host of problems:
Irregular heart beat Cardiac arrest
Changes in muscle control Paralysis
Muscle weakness and fatigue

In addition to the increased potassium levels, drospirenone has also been shown to increase blood clotting. Called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), this type of clot forms in the deep veins. When the clot breaks off, it travels through the body and can cause a heart attack.

Federal Regulators Warn Yaz Makers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long been watching Yaz. In 2003, the FDA chastised the drug maker for misleading advertising, saying the slick TV ads minimized the contraceptive’s risks and imply clinical superiority over other oral contraceptives. The FDA said that the drug company did not clarify that increased blood potassium levels were a safety risk, not a clinical benefit. Since then, the FDA created an advisory committee to review Yaz. Even though the panel voted to recommend keeping the drug on the market, questions have been raised about the ties between Bayer and some advisory committee members.

Yaz Heart Attack Lawsuits Estimated at 10,000

Today, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Bayer and its affiliates. Women claim the drug maker didn’t adequately inform the public about the risks associated with Yaz. Instead, the company downplayed the problems. There are countless stories from women who have suffered unexpected heart attacks after taking Yaz. An estimated 11,000 lawsuits against Yaz have been consolidated in federal court and thousands more in state court. Judges over both the federal and the state proceeding have ordered the drug maker and injured patients to hammer out settlements. So far, Bayer has only settled 70 cases for undisclosed sums.

Last modified: August 20, 2014

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