Alton, ONT- "In 2004 my mother was prescribed Avandia–it was a new experimental drug and her doctor recommended it to regulate her blood sugar," says daughter Anne. "But she suffered a heart attack on October 31, 2005 and I believe it was a result of Avandia."
Anne's mother took Avandia for 18 months before she was rushed to hospital with a heart attack. Up until then, she'd had no heart problems. "We certainly weren't aware of any heart issues and the doctor never said anything," says Anne. She was in pretty good shape for 73– living on her own and able to get around.
"In July of 2005 she'd been diagnosed with cardio-pulmonary disorder-fluid in the lungs that affected her heart and I believe it was a direct result of Avandia," adds Anne. "That was the first time we learned that she had heart trouble."
"My mother lived in a retirement residence where caregivers constantly check on the residents. And my mother wore a necklace with an emergency button. The caregivers were aware that she hadn't been feeling well so one of them came into her apartment just after 5am to check on her. She was almost unresponsive and moaning so the caregiver asked my mother if she should call an ambulance. She then pressed the lifeline button.
I followed the ambulance in my car and got to the hospital with my mother (My husband is a firefighter and he knew right away from the 911 call). She went downhill fast.
All the doctors in ICU (where she stayed for two weeks) asked what medications she was taking. They administered Avandia to her in the hospital.
She was having difficulty breathing; she was also coughing a lot and was having difficulty sleeping. Besides taking Avandia, she was on high blood pressure meds. The doctor believed the coughing was a virus or some other issue so she was also taking an antibiotic.
She was finally taken off Avandia in March of this year. If it wasn't for the doctor at the nursing home, my mother might still be taking Avandia. Or she might be dead. The nursing home received word this past spring that Avandia was potentially the cause of some medical problems and they should review their patient list to see who is taking it.
I have no idea why she was still taking it after she left the hospital. When she stopped Avandia, they put her on another medication and her blood sugar has been fine; they found an alternative product that did the job. I don't know how long this other medication has been on the market but perhaps Avandia didn't need to have been prescribed in the first place.
She is doing very well today; in fact her health is better now than it was two years ago. My husband said if it wasn't for that care giver, she would have died that day. And if wasn't for Avandia, her heart attack might never have happened."