Pulmonary embolism is a blockage of one of the lung’s main arteries or one of its branches. Pulmonary embolism is typically caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from other parts of the body, most commonly the legs. Blood clots in the legs are called deep vein thrombosis and, since they commonly occur in conjunction with pulmonary embolism, doctors refer to the two conditions together as venous thromboembolism. In venous thromboembolism, a blood clot breaks off and moves to the lungs.
If left untreated, pulmonary embolism can cause serious complications, including death. One third of those who go without treatment for PE do not survive.
Risk Factors for Pulmonary Embolism
Although anyone can develop blood clots that lead to pulmonary embolism, certain factors can increase the risk:
- Family Medical History – If any members of your family have had pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis, you could also be at risk.
- Heart Disease – Heart failure makes blood clot formation more likely.
- Cancer – Certain cancers, especially those that spread (metastasis) such as pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer, can increase the amount of blood clots. Chemotherapy also increases the risk of blood clots.
- Prolonged Immobility – Periods of inactivity, such as bed rest after surgery, put you at a higher risk of blood clots. When the legs are kept horizontal for long periods of time, the blood pools and blood clots can be formed.
- Travel – Sitting for long periods of time, such as on an airplane or in a car, restricts the blood flow and increases the risk of blood clots.
- Surgery – One of the leading causes of blood clots are knee surgeries and hip surgeries. During surgery preparation, tissue debris can sometimes contribute to the formation of blood clots. Immobility during surgery can also increase the risk of blood clots. Most individuals who undergo surgeries with increased potential for blood clots will receive medication to prevent them.
- Smoking – It’s unclear why tobacco use causes blood clot formation, but it is a risk factor, especially when combined with other risk factors.
- Obesity – Women who are overweight are at an increased risk for blood clots, specifically women who smoke and have high blood pressure.
- Birth Control Pills – Birth control pills containing the progestin hormone drospirenone, or brand names including Yaz and Yasmin, can cause an increased risk of blood clots.
- Pregnancy – The additional weight from the baby pushes on veins in the pelvis, which increases risk for blood clots.
Preventing Pulmonary Embolism
There are many ways to prevent the formation of blood clots. While the risk of blood clots forming during travel is low, some simple exercises can help. Taking a break every hour by getting out of your seat or stopping at a rest stop assists in blood circulation. If you’re unable to get out of your seat, move your ankles every 15 to 30 minutes. Staying hydrated is also important to preventing blood clots. Some choose to wear compression socks to keep fluid moving in their legs. People with a higher risk of blood clots may be prescribed anti-coagulant drugs, and post-surgery patients should try to move about as soon as possible. Women taking birth control pills that contain the hormone drospirenone should consult with their doctor about the increased risk of blood clots.
Pulmonary Embolism and Birth Control Pills
While there are many ways to prevent blood clots, women whose doctors prescribed birth control pills under the brand names Beyaz, Gianvi, Loryna, Ocella, Safyral, Syeda, Yasmin, Yaz, and Zarah may have been unknowingly exposed to an increased risk of blood clots. Birth control pills contain two hormones: estrogen and progestin. The combination of hormones prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries. Although all birth control pills pose a risk for blood clots, those that contain the synthetic hormone drospirenone have been shown to pose an even greater risk.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) originally approved the use of Yasmin in 2001 and Yaz in 2006. Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, manufactures both brands. However, by 2011, the FDA released a safety announcement to bring attention to the increased risk of blood clots and subsequent risks of pulmonary embolism. The FDA now requires Yaz and Yasmin to come with warning labels that state that there could be up to a three-fold increase in blood clots.
Birth Control Lawsuits
The first Yaz trial is scheduled for June 2015. Pamela Schuchert, a Chester, Illinois woman who took Yaz, is suing Bayer after she suffered an arterial thrombotic event (ATE) and a stroke. Pamela’s is one of the thousands of lawsuits filed by women claiming Yaz and Yasmin injuries. In fact, more than 12,000 Yaz and Yasmin claims have been consolidated in Illinois Federal Court alone.
In the beginning of the Yaz trials, Judge David Herndon facilitated a settlement between Bayer and the victims in a federal court in Illinois. In February 2015, Judge Herdon accused Bayer of dragging their feet and wearing people down as part of its defense strategy. He has since sent groups of cases back U.S. District Courts across the country in order to speed up the litigation process.
Birth Control Lawyer
If you have experienced a blood clot, DBT or pulmonary embolism caused by Yaz or Yasmin birth contraceptives, you are urged to speak with an attorney about your legal options. You may qualify to file a Yaz or Yasmin lawsuit.
Experts estimate that Yaz and Yasmin were prescribed to almost 100 million women. More than 12,000 of these women filed Yaz and Yasmin lawsuits against Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies like Bayer need to be held accountable for their misleading marketing and lack of proper drug research.
It is strongly recommended to speak to an attorney who has experience fighting drug companies. A pharmaceutical injury attorney is available to provide information to Yaz and Yasmin injury victims 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To speak to a Yasmin drug lawyer, call 855-55-BAD-DRUG, or 314-409-7060.