When a VTE occurs, a blood clot that forms due to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) becomes dislodged, moves in the bloodstream into the lungs, and causes a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). Some severe Ocella VTE incidents have caused permanent organ damage, severe disability, or death.
The link between Ocella (drospirenone / ethinyl estradiol) and life-threatening side effects has been established in several massive studies. For more than a decade, evidence has been growing regarding the increased risk of blood clots associated with drospirenone, an ingredient in Ocella. In April of 2012, the FDA finally updated the warnings on the labels of all drospirenone birth control pills to inform women that drospirenone may increase the risk of blood clots by three-fold rate.
All women who take Ocella birth control have an increased risk of Ocella VTE. This applies even to young women who have no risk factors or history of blood clots. However, the risk is highest for women who smoke, are over 35 years old, overweight, who have diabetes.
What is a Venous Thromboembolism?
When a blood clot forms in the body, there is a risk that it could travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. The sequence of events is called a Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).
The disorder begins with the formation of a blood clot, a semi-solid coagulation of red blood cells, platelets, leukocytes, and fibrin to bind it all together. The blood is an ideal clog for for blood vessels, as it is designed to do this after an injury occurs. Ocella increases the chances that a blood clot will form spontaneously. This condition is called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). A DVT blood clot grows along the walls of veins, most often in the legs. Thigh blood clots are most dangerous — around 50% break off and cause a pulmonary embolism.
A Pulmonary Embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot clogs a blood vessel in the lungs. This can cause damage to the lungs and also to the heart. Lung tissue quickly becomes deprived of the blood it needs to survive, causing organ damage. The heart also must pump harder and faster to force blood into the lungs. This significantly increases blood pressure. If the obstruction in the lungs is large, the heart muscle may be incapable of forcing blood into the lungs. This can cause heart failure, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.
Signs & Symptoms of an Ocella VTE
Symptoms of an Ocella VTE may include:
- Pain, swelling, discoloration, prominent veins, redness, increased warmth, and decreased blood flow (ischemia) to the upper or lower extremities
- Shortness of breath, respiratory distress
- Rapid pulse, galloping heart rhythm
- Profuse sweating
- Chest pain, tightness, or discomfort
- Weakness, tiredness, faintness, etc.
- Losing consciousness
- Coughing, which may be blood-streaked
- Abnormal sounds in the lungs
- Apprehension, nervousness, anxiety, etc.
Treatment and Prognosis
Diagnosis and treatment is essential for survival. One danger of an Ocella VTE is that doctors can easily miss the signs of DVT, fail to diagnose a blood clot, and send a patient home without treatment. Approximately 30% of untreated, undiagnosed VTEs cause death, whereas only 2-8% of diagnosed conditions cause death.
The first-line treatment is usually aggressive medication to dissolve blood clots. Intravenous medications are typically used in the hospital, and patients usually take oral anti-coagulants for several months after they go home.
Unfortunately, there is a high risk than an Ocella VTE will cause long-term venous complications. Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS). This disorder occurs when DVT causes severe, permanent damage to the veins in the legs. Symptoms include transient pain, swelling, varicose or prominent veins, tingling, itching, or ulcers.