Yaz birth control pills can cause hyperkalemia, a severe medical condition that occurs when potassium levels in the bloodstream get too high. Although potassium is an essential nutrient, excessively high levels can cause a sudden, irregular heartbeat. Yaz hyperkalemia can be fatal. It is especially dangerous because it is difficult to diagnose. .
Yaz and Hyperkalemia
Yaz is a birth control pill sold by the drug company Bayer. The FDA approved Yaz in 2006. It was the second birth control (after Yasmin) to contain drospirenone, the “fourth generation” synthetic progestin. New research has linked drospirenone to a growing list of life-threatening side effects, including hyperkalemia. Even so, many women were unaware of the risk of Yaz hyperkalemia before they decided to switch to Yaz. This is because the drug was initially advertised with no risk information. In fact, drospirenone may significantly increase potassium levels, which can cause blood clots, hyperkalemia, and many other side effects. Now, Bayer is facing thousands of Yaz lawsuits from women who were injured by Yaz.
What is Hyperkalemia?
Hyperkalemia is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when potassium levels in the bloodstream are too high. Potassium is a nutrient that is necessary for proper function of nerves and muscle cells, including cells that are in the heart. The biggest danger with hyperkalemia is that it will interfere with heart electrical activity, triggering a sudden irregular heartbeat that can cause death.
Most potassium in the body (98%) remains inside cells. Only a very small amount (2%) circulates in the bloodstream. Some medications alter this balance by changing the way that cells absorb potassium.
Normally, hyperkalemia is most common in people who have kidney problems. Unfortunately, a growing number of women are suffering from hyperkalemia after taking Yaz birth control pills. Experts believe that the hormones in Yaz (especially drospirenone) may interfere with the way the cells absorb potassium.
Signs & Symptoms of Yaz Hyperkalemia
Hyperkalemia is very dangerous, because due to the lack of distinctive symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnosed. Further complicating matters, Yaz hyperkalemia may occur in women who have no history of hyperkalemia or risk factors for the disease.
Symptoms of Yaz hyperkalemia include:
- Slow, weak, or irregular pulse
- Sudden collapse
- Changes in consciousness — feeling faint, dizzy, weak, etc.
- Slow heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Tingling, numbness, or other unusual feelings
Treatment and Prognosis
Yaz hyperkalemia must be treated in a hospital. A doctors will use an ECG, which monitors the heart rhythm. This is because people who are suffering from hyperkalemia may have a sudden, severely irregular heartbeat. This can lead to sudden death. The patient will also probably be given intravenous bicarbonate, calcium, and insulin. These medications can help cells absorb more potassium, and encourage the body to remove potassium from the body by having it absorbed by the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.