New evidence reveals the potential for very serious harm from the bisphosphonates Zoledronate (Zometa) and Fosamax.

In a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that can increase the risk of stroke, was found to be nearly three times more common among women taking Zoledronate or Reclast. Of 3,889 volunteers using the drug and 3,876 given placebo injections, one in 77 Reclast patients developed the problem. The risk of atrial fibrillation was increased 3 fold over placebo.

People with atrial fibrillation have reduced cardiac output and are four times more likely to have a stroke and it is more likely to be fatal than in patients without atrial fibrillation. Overall mortality rates are doubled in atrial fibrillation.

Fosamax, used by an estimated 1.8 million American women has also been found to have a 50 percent higher risk of the serious heart rhythm in women who took the daily pill. The study involving 6,459 women, half of whom took Fosamax while the other didn’t, found there appeared to be 50 percent more risk of the serious heart rhythm in women taking the pill than among those who didn’t take it; about half of the 6,459 women took Fosamax, and 47 developed atrial fibrillation, compared to just 31 cases among the other women.

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