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.People with atrial fibrillation have reduced cardiac output and are four times more likely to have a stroke. Overall mortality rates are doubled in patients with 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 abnormal heart rhythm in women who took the daily pill. The study involving 6,459 women, half of whom took Fosamax while half took a placebo, found 47 of the women taking Fosamax developed atrial fibrillation, compared to 31 cases in the placebo group.
(Black DM et al. Cummings SR et al. N Engl J Med 2007; 356:1809-1822,1895-1896.)