Safyral is a “fourth generation” oral contraceptive that contains a combination of hormones. One hormone, drospirenone, is a new type of synthetic progestin that has been associated with an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and other deadly side effects. Safyral also contains ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic estrogen.
Using hormonal birth control pills may cause hyperkalemia. However, you may have been unaware of this serious risk before you took Safyral. Many “fourth generation” birth control pills were initially advertised without risk information. Now, Bayer is facing thousands of lawsuits for injuries that were caused by these medications.
What is Hyperkalemia?
Hyperkalemia occurs when there is too much potassium in the bloodstream. It is a life-threatening disorder that occurs when a person’s potassium levels are thrown off-balance. Normally, about 98% of your potassium is intracellular, and 2% is found outside of cells. Experts believe that the hormones in Safyral and other birth control pills can disrupt this balance, causing abnormally high levels of potassium in the bloodstream.
Potassium is an essential nutrient that the body absorbs from many foods, including bananas and avocados. It plays an important role in the healthy function of nerve cells and muscle cells — including the muscle cells inside the heart. Too much potassium in the bloodstream can interfere with the heart’s normal electrical signals.
The biggest danger is that hyperkalemia will cause an irregular heartbeat. In severe cases, the heart is completely unable to function. This can lead to congestive heart failure, severe organ damage, permanent physical disability, intellectual disability, or death. Even more frightening is the fact that Safyral hyperkalemia often affects young women with no history of the disease, and it may not have symptoms until it starts affecting the heart.
Signs & Symptoms of Safyral Hyperkalemia
Safyral hyperkalemia does not always have symptoms. It may affect women who have no history of hyperkalemia. The problem is that many women delay seeking treatment, because they do not realize that they have hyperkalemia, especially in the early stages of the disorder. Even when they go to the hospital, it may be difficult for a doctor to diagnose Safyral hyperkalemia. The doctor must order a blood test. Hyperkalemia lacks any symptoms that are unique to the condition.
Symptoms of Safyral hyperkalemia may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Feeling ill, looking ill
- Abnormal heart rhythm — may be slow, weak, or irregular
- Sudden collapse
- Changes in consciousness — faintness, weakness, dizziness, etc.
- Slow or slowing heart rhythm
- Having trouble breathing
- Tingling, numbness, abnormal sensations
Treatment & Prognosis
The goal of treatment is to remove potassium from the bloodstream and prevent irregular heartbeat from causing death. The patient will probably be hooked up to a machine called an electrocardiogram (ECG), which monitors the patient’s electrical activity in the heart and warns a physician if the heart is beating abnormally. The patient will also probably be given intravenous medications. One medication may be insulin, a hormone that triggers cells to absorb nutrients (including potassium) from the bloodstream. This decreases the amount of potassium in the blood and increases the amount of potassium inside cells. Other medications (for example: calcium, bicarbonate) can help the kidney and gastrointestinal tract to absorb more potassium and expel it from the body.