Yaz, NuvaRing, Other Combined Birth Control Double Stroke Risk: Study

Yet another study has highlighted the risks associated with newer birth control products, including Yaz, Yasmin, NuvaRing and Ortho Evra patch, finding that combination hormone birth control may double the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In research published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Danish researchers compared various types of birth control for associated rates of myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke. The study found that combined hormone products increased a woman’s odds of suffering a heart attack or stroke, and the risk was substantially higher than single-hormone products.

The study looked at data on more than 1.6 million women between the ages of 15 and 49. Researchers found that women who used birth control pills that used both estrogen and progestins, were up to twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than a woman who was not on hormone-based birth control.

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The odds were even higher when that combination was applied through the use of the NuvaRing, in which the estrogen and progestin are delivered through a small plastic ring inserted into the vagina once a month, or the use of Ortho Evra, in which the combined hormones are delivered through a monthly patch applied to the skin. Side effects of NuvaRing and Ortho Evra may increase the risk as high as three times.

Researchers cautioned that the overall risk of a heart attack or stroke from the birth control products was still low, but the study adds to a growing body of evidence that raises serious concerns about the newer forms of birth control, which have been linked to an increased risk of blood clots.

Numbers gleaned from the same study were used in a report in the British Medical Journal in May, which focused solely on the increased risk associated with the NuvaRing and Ortho Evra patch.

In recent years, NuvaRing has been heavily promoted as an alternative to taking a daily birth control pill, particularly targeting young women.  While the manufacturer suggested that the risks associated with the birth control ring were similar to those associated with oral pills, this does not appear to be the case.

In October 2011, the FDA released a study on the blood clot risk associated several newer forms of birth control, including both NuvaRing and Ortho Evra, as well as Yaz, Yasmin and other drospirenone-based birth control pills.  The report found that use of NuvaRing and Ortho Evra both appeared to raise the risk of venous thombosis about 55% over levonorgestrel.

Thousands of women across the United States have filed a NuvaRing lawsuit, alleging that the manufacturers failed to warn women or their doctors of the health risks.

A number of Ortho Evra lawsuits were settled several years ago, involving claims brought by women who alleged the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the level of hormones delivered by the patch.

Over 10,000 women have also filed a Yaz or Yasmin lawsuit against Bayer, alleging that they suffered injuries as a result of the drug maker’s failure to adequately warn about the side effects of drosperinone, which is a new “fourth generation” progestin contained in the birth control pills, which has been linked to an increased risk of blood clots when compared to older combined hormone birth control pills.

Bayer has recently started reaching Yaz and Yasmin settlement agreements in claims brought by women who allege that they suffered a pulmonary embolism or deeb vein thrombosis (DVT) after using the birth control pill.

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