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Osteoporosis Drug Linked to Heart Problem
Women who have used Fosamax are nearly twice as likely to develop the most common kind of chronically irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) than are those who have never used it, according to research.
Fosamax is the most widely used drug treatment for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, explained study leader Susan Heckbert, a professor at the University of Washington. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first generic versions (called alendronate).
“We studied more than 700 female Group Health patients whose atrial fibrillation was first detected during a three-year period,” said Dr. Heckbert. She and her colleagues compared those women to over 900 randomly selected female Group Health members matched on age and high blood pressure to serve as controls. The study aims to find new factors that raise the risk of developing this quivering of the heart’s upper chambers.
“Having ever used alendronate was associated with an 86 percent higher risk of newly detected atrial fibrillation compared with never having used the drug,” said Dr. Heckbert, who is also an affiliate investigator at the Group Health Center for Health Studies.
Osteoporosis mostly affects older women and can set the stage for fractures that can impair the quality of their lives, said Dr. Heckbert. “Careful judgment is required to weigh the risks and benefits of any medication for any individual patient,” she added. “For most women at high risk of fracture, alendronate’s benefit of reducing fractures will outweigh the risk of atrial fibrillation.”
However, said Dr. Heckbert, “women who are at high risk of fractures but also have risk factors for atrial fibrillation - such as heart failure, diabetes, or coronary disease - might want to discuss alternatives to alendronate with their health care providers.”
REHACARE.de; Source: Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies
- More info on the Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies: www.ghc.org