Evidence supporting the risk of Ocella-induced blood clots continues to mount, as a new study of 330,000 Israeli women has found that patients taking drospirenone-based contraceptives (the main active ingredient contained in Ocella) have a greater risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) than those taking older forms of birth control. Specifically, DVTs are characterized by the formation of a blood clot that is deep inside the body, usually the legs. Signs and symptoms of an Ocella-induced deep vein thrombosis may include changes in skin color (redness) in one leg, pain, tenderness, and swelling at the site of the clot.
What’s the Problem with Ocella?
Manufactured and marketed by Bayer Healthcare, Ocella is a generic version of Yasmin, a best-selling oral contraceptive prescribed to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Both Ocella and Yasmin contain a new, so-called ‘fourth generation’ synthetic hormone known as drospirenone. Unfortunately, mounting research and numerous case studies have shown that drospirenone birth control pills have many severe side effects, perhaps the most severe of which is deep vein thrombosis.
Deep Vein Thrombosis Overview
Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body (most often in the lower leg or thigh). DVTs become dangerous when they break off and migrate through the bloodstream. Once a clot breaks loose, it is referred to as an embolus. It can travel to an artery in the lungs and block blood flow, resulting in a life-threatening situation known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). If left untreated, PEs can damage the lungs and organs in the body, and can even lead to death.
Signs & Symptoms
Most of the symptoms accompanying a DVT are caused by the obstruction of blood returning to the heart and causing a backup of blood in the leg. Telltale signs may include:
Not all these symptoms may be present in an individual suffering from a deep vein thrombosis. Conclusive diagnosis of the condition is often difficult because the symptoms mimic those of an infection or cellulitis of the leg.
Treatment & Prognosis (Outlook)
Treatment for DVTs typically involves anticoagulation, which is intended to inhibit further growth of the blood clot and prevent it from developing into an embolus that can travel to the lung. Anticoagulation is usually accomplished with Coumadin (generic: warfarin) and Lovenox (generic: enoxaparin), two drugs that work by different mechanisms to thin the blood. In rare cases where these anticoagulants cannot be used, surgery is an option in treating large DVTs of the leg. Surgery is typically accomplished by placing an IVC (inferior vena cava) filter to prevent future clots from embolizing to the lung.
Despite the fact that the long-term outlook for recovery from a DVT is quite good, there is a significant risk of chronic venous insufficiency (also known as post-thrombotic syndrome). If this occurs, patients may experience persistent swelling and tenderness of the affected leg and an increased risk of recurrent DVT and leg ulceration. After an asymptomatic DVT, the risk of these complications is only about 5%. Two years after a symptomatic above-the-calf (proximal) DVT has been treated, the incidence of complications is 25 to 50%. Seven to 10 years after treatment, the incidence is as high as 70 to 90%. The recurrence rate of DVT in untreated patients is 50% within the first three months.
Side Effects of Ocella
In addition to having the potential to cause deep vein thrombosis, Ocella and other drospirenone-containing birth control pills have been linked to the following serious side effects:
- Heart Attack
- Cardiac Arrhythmia
- Kidney Failure
- Blood Clots
- Pulmonary Embolism
- Venous Thromboembolism
- Gallbladder Disease
- Hepatic Adenoma
- Sudden Death