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Heart Disease: Drug family is unsuspected cause in 3 per cent of cases
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Up to 3 per cent of postmenopausal women could be suffering from life-threatening atrial fibrillation (AF) that's been caused by a drug they are taking

Up to 3 per cent of postmenopausal women could be suffering from life-threatening atrial fibrillation (AF) that's been caused by a drug they are taking. It's just been discovered that the bone disease drug family known as bisphosphonates - including Fosamax (alendronate sodium) and Zometa and Aclasta (zoledronic acid) - cause AF, an abnormal heart rhythm in the heart's upper chambers.

Researchers made the unexpected discovery when they profiled 719 postmenopausal women with AF against 966 healthy controls. The women had been taking the drug to treat osteoporosis.

It's not the first time the safety record of the bisphosphonates has been questioned. In 2005 researchers discovered the drugs cause osteochemonecrosis, or 'bis-phossy jaw', a painful and disfiguring jaw disease.

(Source: Archives of Internal medicine, 2008; 168: 826-31).


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