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Yaz Stroke

In June 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that some oral contraceptives like Yaz and Yasmin could slightly increase a woman’s risk of heart attack or stroke. For the study, Danish researchers examined data related to 1.6 million women over a period of 15 years, and found that combination hormone pills were associated with an increased risk. In this study, the higher the level of estrogen in the pills, the higher the increased risk.

This was after the FDA had warned physicians and women earlier in 2012 that taking birth control pills containing the progestin “drospirenone”—which includes Yaz, Yasmin, and Ocella—could increase the risk of suffering blood clots, which can also lead to pulmonary embolism, heart attack, and stroke. Women who have suffered serious injuries like Yaz stroke and blood clots may be eligible to file a lawsuit to recover damages from Bayer, the manufacturer.

What is a stroke?

According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke or “brain attack” occurs “when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.”

A stroke damages brain cells because it robs them of needed oxygen that they usually receive from blood.

Considering the above definition, we can break strokes into two types:

  • Ischemic stroke: The most common type of stroke, an ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to a part of the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: This type of stroke is less common, and occurs when a blood vessel on the brain’s surface ruptures and floods the area between the brain and the skull with blood. It may also occur when a defective artery in the brain bursts.

How well a patient does after a stroke depends on where it occurs, and how much brain damage is done. Some patients will have only minor weakness in the arm or leg, for example.

Victims of Yaz stroke may suffer:

  • Paralysis
  • Speech difficulties
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bladder problems
  • Death

How does Yaz/Yasmin cause a stroke?

Yaz, Yasmin, and other birth control pills containing drospirenone have been linked with an increased risk of Yaz stroke because they have been found to increase risk of blood clots. All birth control pills contain some estrogen, which according to studies, can increase risk of stroke. But over the past several years, researchers have found that pills containing the progestin “drospirenone” raise the risk of blood clots more than older birth control pills containing the progestin levonorgestrel—thereby raising the risk of stroke, as well.

For a Yaz stroke to occur, the victim may develop a blood clot anywhere in the body, including the deep veins of the legs. If this blood clot then breaks off and travels to an artery or blood vessel in the brain, it can become lodged there, block blood flow, and cause a stroke.

Studies reveal increased risk of Yaz and Yasmin blood clots

Many studies over the past several years have indicated that women taking birth control pills with drospirenone—which is a relatively new progestin—have an increased risk of blood clots.

Research on the Yasmin and Yaz blood clot risk:

  • BJM (British Medical Journal), 2011: For this study, researchers compared the risk of blood clots in American women receiving birth control pills containing drospirenone with those taking birth control pills containing levonorgestrel. They looked at women aged 15 to 44 years who took the pills after January 1, 2002. Results showed that users of drospirenone pills had about twice the risk of blood clots as users of levonorgestrel pills.
  • BMJ (British Medical Journal), 2011: In a second study, researchers looked at British women between the ages of 15 and 44 who took birth control pills with either drospirenone or levonorgestrel between 2002 and 2009. Again, they found that those taking the pills with drospirenone had a higher risk of blood clots.
  • CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), 2011: Canadian researchers looked at women aged 12 to 50 who took oral contraceptives between 2002 and 2008. Their results showed that the use of drospirenone-containing oral contraceptives was associated with an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism—both related to Yaz and Yasmin blood clots.

FDA takes action concerning Yaz stroke

The FDA has been watching the studies concerning Yasmin and Yaz blood clots, and has taken action along the way to help protect consumers.

FDA actions regarding Yaz, Yasmin,and Ocella:

  • May 2011: The FDA announced it was reviewing data showing that Yaz, Yasmin, Ocella, and other drospirenone-containing birth control pills may be more likely to cause blood clots than other forms of hormonal birth control.
  • September 2011: The FDA released a Drug Safety Communication stating that it had not yet reached a conclusion, but remained concerned about the potential increased risk for blood clots with the use of drospirenone-containing birth control pills.
  • October 2011: The FDA released another safety update noting that an FDA-funded study entitled “Combined Hormonal Contraceptives (CHCs) and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Endpoints” found that drospirenone-containing pills were associated with a “significantly higher risk” of blood clots in comparison with other pills.
  • December 2011: An FDA panel of experts ruled that the warnings on drospirenone pills like Yaz and Yasmin should be updated to reflect recent data showing they pose a higher risk of blood clots—and thereby, strokes—than other birth control pills.
  • April 2012: The FDA announced that all drospirenone-containing oral contraceptives would carry a revised warning label alerting doctors and patients to a potential for increased risks of blood clots. They noted that emerging science had indicated these pills may present a three times higher risk than older pills.

Plaintiffs claim Yaz stroke

Since it wasn’t until 2012 that the FDA required manufacturer Bayer to include warnings about the higher risks of Yaz and Yasmin stroke and blood clots, women who took the pills before these warnings were implemented and then suffered a Yaz and Yasmin stroke are likely to have grounds to hold Bayer liable in court for their injuries.

Some examples of Yaz stroke lawsuits include:

  • Susan Gallenos, a young California mother, took Yaz for only a month before suffering a stroke in 2008. Doctors had to remove a section of her skull to alleviate the pressure buildup in her brain. She was left with irreparable brain damage.
  • A 39-year old woman took Yaz/Yasmin, and later suffered a Yaz stroke on February 17, 2011. She filed a Yaz lawsuit on February 6, 2013, in California.
  • Plaintiff Brenda Depperschmidt claimed she took Yaz and later experienced a stroke. She filed a new lawsuit on December 12, 2013, in San Diego County.
  • Plaintiff Kim Lucas sought damages against Bayer after she suffered a stroke after taking Yaz in 2010. Her case was filed in Texas on October 12, 2012.