Gianvi (the generic version of Yaz) is a “fourth generation” birth control pill that contains drospirenone. Unfortunately, the FDA has warned that drospirenone increases the risk of blood clots by 75%. Blood clots can cause heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and death. Drospirenone may also increase the amount of potassium in a woman’s bloodstream, causing gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, kidney damage, and irregular heartbeat.
Gianvi is a “fourth generation” oral contraceptive containing drospirenone, created by Teva Pharmaceuticals. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 for the prevention of pregnancy. Gianvi is the generic form of Yaz, a contraceptive created by the pharmaceutical company Bayer. Gianvi and Yaz are essentially the same medication, containing the same active ingredients, safety, and risks.
Gianvi consists of 24 active tablets. Each “active” tablet contains 0.3 milligrams of drospirenone, a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progestin, and 0.03 milligrams of ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic version of the female sex hormone estrogen. The regimen also contains several inactive tablets, which contain no active drugs, but help a woman stay in the habit of taking her birth control pill at the same time every day. When taken as directed, Gianvi is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is no more or less effective at preventing pregnancy than birth control containing levonorgestrel or other, older forms of synthetic progestin. However, Gianvi and other “fourth generation” birth control pills containing drospirenone have a slightly higher risk of side effects, including blood clots that can cause heart attacks.
Gianvi and Drospirenone
The controversy over “fourth generation” birth control pills regards drospirenone. Drospirenone is a new type of progestin, a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progestin. All birth control pills that contain synthetic progestin slightly increases the risk of blood clots. Other types of synthetic progestin, such as levonorgestrel, have a long history of use, and research has found that the risk of blood clots is between 4-6 women per 10,000 who use a medication containing the drug. Drospirenone is relatively new, however, and recent safety data has found that the risk of blood clots may be slightly higher — around 10 per 10,000 women taking a medication containing this drug.
Though the increased risk seems small, because tens of millions of women use a birth control containing drospirenone, this translates to tens of thousands of extra cases of potentially deadly blood clots.
Even the FDA has warned that contraceptives that contain drospirenone may increase a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot, heart attack, or other complication. Upon reviewing research of 800,000 women, the FDA found a 75% increased risk of developing a blood clot associated with contraceptives containing drospirenone.
Though birth control pills that contain drospirenone slightly increase the risk of heart attacks and other side effects, they are equally effective at preventing pregnancy.
Gianvi and Heart Attacks
How could Gianvi cause a heart attack? Gianvi contains drospirenone, which increases the risk that a woman will develop a blood clot. In a condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), blood clots form in the large veins in the legs. If these blood clots break loose and travel through the bloodstream, they may become stuck in the coronary artery. This is an artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. If the blood clot blocks this artery, the heart muscle quickly becomes deprived of oxygen. If the blood clot is not corrected within 20-40 minutes, the heart tissue will begin to die. Damage to the heart muscle is irreversible and can cause death. Around one million people suffer a heart attack in the U.S. every year. Of these, 400,000 die.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Chest pain is usually the first sign that a person is about to suffer a heart attack. This chest pain is caused by a partial block of the coronary artery. Left untreated, it can quickly progress to a full-blown heart attack. If you take Gianvi and experience chest pain, this may be the first symptom that you are about to suffer a heart attack.
Other symptoms that could indicate a deadly heart attack include:
- Pain or discomfort behind the breast-bone, upper-left section of the chest, left arm
- Pain or discomfort extending to the hands, jaw, stomach, right arm, or more parts of the body
- Fainting, light-headedness, severe dizziness, disorientation
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting