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Osteoporosis Meds Linked to Heart Problem
Date:10/27/2008

Bisphosphonates may up rate of serious atrial fibrillation, review finds,,,,

MONDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The popular bone-building medications known as bisphosphonates may have a rare, but serious, cardiac side effect.

A review of available research concludes that these medications may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation -- an erratic heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots that may cause heart attacks or strokes.

"In addition to possible gastrointestinal side effects, bisphosphonates can have possible cardiac side effects. For serious cases of atrial fibrillation, there was a significant increase in risk -- about 68 percent," said review lead author Dr. Jennifer Miranda, an internal medicine resident at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

But Miranda noted that the absolute risk of someone experiencing atrial fibrillation while on these medications was actually quite small, probably around 1 percent to 2 percent.

Miranda was expected to present the findings Monday at the American College of Chest Physicians annual meeting, in Philadelphia.

Bisphosphonates are a class of medications that increase bone mineral density. They are commonly prescribed to treat people with osteoporosis and also for people who have suffered hip fractures. Bisphosphonates may also be used to treat Paget's disease of bone.

This class of medications includes alendronate (Fosamax), zoledronic acid (Reclast), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel), and more.

Although effective, these medications can cause serious side effects in some people. Gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea can occur. Of more concern are rare side effects, such as osteonecrosis of the jaw, unusual bone fractures, and severe muscle, bone or joint pain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety of bisphosphonates, but at this time does
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