IV Bisphosphonate Treatment May Up Atrial Fibrillation Risk in Older Cancer Patients

Emerging research suggests that older patients—65 and over—being treated for cancer with an intravenous (IV) <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Bisphosphonates">bisphosphonate are at an increased risk for some adverse events, according to a report in Modern Medicine.

These patients are at an increased risk atrial fibrillation (AF), supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), and stroke, said Modern Medicine, citing Health Day News and research published last month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, HealthDay News reported.

Bisphosphonates, sold under the brand names Actonel, Actonel+Ca, Aredia, Boniva, Didronel, Fosamax, Fosamax+D, Reclast, Skelid, and Zometa, are commonly used in tablet form to prevent and treat osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Stronger forms of bisphosphonate drugs are used in the management of advanced cancers that have metastasized to the bone, where the disease often causes bone pain and possibly even fractures. When bisphosphonates are given in cancer chemotherapy, the drugs are given by IV in higher doses and usually for longer periods to minimize pain and to stave off the damage that the cancer causes to the bone.

Gregg S. Wilkinson, PhD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch, and his team looked at 13,714 patients not being treated with bisphosphonates and 6,857 patients being treated with bisphosphonates to review the link between IV bisphosphonates and the likelihood of AF, SVT, and stroke, said Modern Medicine. A so-called “modest” link was found between use of IV bisphosphonates and an increased risk of these disorders, added Modern Medicine.

Earlier this month we wrote that some doctors are recommending that women take a break from Fosamax and other bisphosphonates. The recommendations come amid growing concern that such drugs may do more harm than good. Since the first bisphosphonate came on the market 15 years ago, millions of women have taken them for osteoporosis.

Recently, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) added warnings to the labels of some oral bisphosphonates after studies showed long-term use of the drugs could be linked to a rare type of thigh fracture. The new warnings are ironic, considering that people with osteoporosis take bisphosphonates to prevent broken bones.

The use of Fosamax and other bisphosphonates has also been associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), or dead jaw syndrome, a condition in which the bone tissue in the jaw fails to heal after minor trauma such as a tooth extraction, causing the bone to be exposed and which can eventually lead to infection and fracture and may require long-term antibiotic therapy or surgery to remove the dying bone tissue. In 2005, the FDA ordered that the label for Fosamax and other bisphosphonates be updated to include warnings about ONJ.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for the victims of bisphosphonates such as Actonel, Actonel+Ca, Aredia, Boniva, Didronel, Fosamax, Fosamax+D, Reclast, Skelid, and Zometa is available at <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Bisphosphonates">www.YourLawyer.com.

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