Fosamax side effects linked to atrial fibrillation

Harvey Kirk

By Harvey Kirk
Posted May 7, 2007


According to reports published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, Fosamax side effects could increase the risk of a serious heart problem, known as an atrial fibrillation.  The overall risk is small, but experts have indicated that caution should be used by those at risk for an atrial fibrillation and additional research is needed to evaluate the danger.

Researchers found evidence of Fosamax heart problems after re-reviewing the results of a large clinical study involving post menopausal women, which collected data over a five year period, ending in 1997.  The original trial, known as the Fracture Intervention Trial, was conducted to evaluate the effects of Fosamax on the risk of fracture.  According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the surprise finding from the data was that the risk of a serious heart rhythm problem could be 50% greater for those taking Fosamax when compared with those taking a placebo.

Merck, the maker of the popular osteoporosis treatment, has had this data for nearly 10 years, and many question why they have not conducted further research on the risk of heart problems.  Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that can increase the risk of stroke.  The report indicates that 1.5 percent of women taking Fosamax experienced a serious atrial fibrillation, compared to 1 percent taking the placebo.  Further studies are expected.

The drug maker is currently facing hundreds of Fosamax lawsuits from users who suffered a rare jaw condition, known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.  Merck has been accused of minimizing the risk of this Fosamax jaw problem in an attempt to protect their profits.  Fosamax generates approximately $2 billion in annual revenues, with about 18 million Americans taking the osteoporosis drug each year.  It is possible that they have placed profits before the safety of their consumers once again by failing to properly research their product and warn of the risk of atrial fibrillation.

The Fosamax lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. represent individuals who suffered side effects resulting in jaw decay.  Information regarding the risk of an atrial fibrillation is being evaluated, and we will continue to update this area of our site regarding any future Fosamax news.  To receive automatic updates by email click here, or you can subscribe to our RSS feed.

If you, a friend or family member have suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw (also known as dead jaw or ONJ) after taking Fosamax, compensation may be available.  Request a free claim evaluation.

22 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • Janet Cook says:

    I am a healthy 55 year old female and suffered atrial fibrillation in February and was hospitalized for a week. Since that time, I have suffered from Super Ventricular tachycardia (SVT). I have taken Fosamax for approximately 2 years. Does anyone else have these symptoms?

    Posted on May 23, 2007 at 2:37 pm

  • Melissa says:

    My mom was a healthy woman until she took Fosamax for nearly 6 years. She developed atrial fibrillation that led to tachybradycardia, cardiomyopathy, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and today she got a pacemaker. She also has Trigeminal Neuralgia, the “suicide disease”. They say it causes the most excruciating pain known to man. Does anyone have those symptoms?

    Posted on June 18, 2007 at 10:10 pm

  • Joan says says:

    I have taken Fosamax for 7 yrs. and 3 yrs. ago was in the hospital for atrial fibrillation. I have just stopped taking fosamax because of the jaw bone scare but now I think I probably have the ATRIALIFBRILLATION FROM FOSAMX, but I am under the caradiologist care but the AF is getting worse, I am always in AF, I take diltiazem 108 mg/ for it but how do you stop this AF? Please help.

    Posted on August 30, 2007 at 1:20 pm

  • Lonna Berridge says:

    I am a healthy 56 year old with a small frame and risks of osteoporosis. Fosamax was prescribed for me. I took the weekly dosage for 3 weeks (3 pills) and in that time have developed an irregular heart rhythm. I am awaiting test results – EKG, echo cardiogram, and Holter monitor. How scary to think that this could have developed in only 3 weeks. I took myself off Fosamax and am hoping for a return to health.

    Posted on October 8, 2007 at 7:42 pm

  • Elaine Beckyer says:

    I am an almost 60 year old female. Was prescribed Fosamax about six months ago. I was worried about esophagus pain from this drug, but recently got up the nerve to try this medication, as my bones are thinning according to two different tests done. I took the first pill of Fosamax on a Friday. On the following Monday, I could not sleep as my heartrate was nearly 120 and pounding. The heart was not keeping a rhythm, either, so I went to see the doctor. I told him about my new medication, Fosamax, and asked if this would be causing my symptoms. He said something like, not to his knowledge. The symptoms seemed to subside and on the following Friday, I took a second Fosamax pill. I got the same symptoms a few days later and was sent to emergency room. I quit taking the Fosamax. It is now three or four weeks later. My steady heart rhythm has returned just recently. I will see a cardiologist at my family doctor suggestion.

    Posted on October 24, 2007 at 9:23 am

  • Philip J. Procida says:

    I am a 71 old male and in excellent shape, working out and cycling during summer months close to 200 miles each week. I had a short bout with atrial fibrillation about nine years ago, and have been problem free ever since. I started with Fosamax approximately 3 years ago, and two months ago went into Atrial Fibrillation again. This time we cannot get the heart to go back into a normal sinus rhythm for much more that a few hours each day. I have stopped Fosamax, but the damage may already have been done.

    Posted on November 11, 2007 at 4:59 pm

  • Joanne says:

    In reply to Mellissa:
    My mother took Fosamax for 12 years and developed serious problems with trigeminal neuralgia.

    Posted on December 10, 2007 at 11:52 pm

  • Melissa says:

    Joanne, That’s my mother’s name. She now has a pacemaker. She had a radiofrequency rhizotomy in June. The pains are back again. How is your mother?

    Posted on February 29, 2008 at 10:42 pm

  • Dr Jim says:

    What many people don’t know is that the studies are primarily in women with extremely low bone mineral density (2.5 standard deviations below normal) or who have had previous fractures. The primary study showed that in the low bone density group you need to treat 100 women for 3 years to prevent one fracture. In other words, the benefit of Fosamax is small. If there is a small benefit, there should be a very low risk and a low cost to justify using this medicine.

    Posted on April 27, 2008 at 11:41 pm

  • Cindy says:

    I was prescribed Fosamax and Evista approx 4 years ago. I have off and on experienced little heart flutters. However since mid-February I have been in the emergency room twice with a very rapid heartbeat – I am now on heart medication. After hearing about this possible link, I have taken my last Fosamax. My doctor actually prescribed Boniva as a replacement, but now I question taking anything even though my bone scans have not been very good.

    Posted on April 28, 2008 at 6:38 pm

  • Thomas Simmons says:

    I am a 52 year old male who has taken Fosamax for several years and without incident. Almost any drug has a potential for risk.

    Posted on April 28, 2008 at 10:48 pm

  • Diana says:

    My mother ended up in the hospital with a-fib after trying fosamax, and my jaw is practically crumbling. Why don’t they take this crap off the market?!

    Posted on April 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm

  • Sue says:

    My mom took Fosamax for many years. In July of 2007 she was diagnosed with left mitral valve failure and atrial fibrillation. She had a valve replacement in July and still has the atrial fibrillation. In December of 2007 she ended up with a pacemaker due to slow heartbeat. Today she just had to get a procedure to get her heart back out of atrial fibrillation. This is a never ending saga – she is at her wits end due to all the hospital stays and emergencies due to this heart issue.

    Posted on May 1, 2008 at 3:41 pm

  • Joanne says:

    My mother was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (with congestive heart failure) about 18 years ago and had only that one episode then and was controlled with medication and has not had any recurrence until she started Fosamax about 3 years ago. Since starting Fosamax she has been hospitalized about 5 times with Atrial Fibrillation and congestive heart failure. We could not understand why this kept occurring, and the doctors could not tell us why. We feel that the Fosamax may be the cause. She stop taking Fosamax last week. But the irony is that she is again in congestive heart failure at this time.

    Posted on May 2, 2008 at 10:08 am

  • Julie says:

    I have had atrial filbrillation for approximately 10 years. It was undiagnosed for 6 years but finally caught when I had a 12-hour episode. It has been controlled since that time by taking daily dosage of 240mg Diltiazem. In April 20007, my primary care physician encouraged me to start Fosamax. At that time, I was 66 years old. For 20 years I have excercised vigorously every day,changing my routine from running at the age of 60 to very fast walking 45 minutes a day. During the summer, I suffered daily and debilitating bouts of atrial fibrillation and frequent extended periods without returning to sinus rhythm. The cardiologist added Flecainide 50mg to my daily Diltiazem and the atrial fibrillation has been controlled. I would prefer not to take the Flecainide because it oftten causes nausea and heartburn. Since I quit taking Fosamax because of the expense in September, I am anxious to find out if I can discontinue Flecainide. Does anyone have any information on this?

    Posted on May 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm

  • Karin says:

    I took Fosamax for 2 months in late 2003. After 2 months I developed atrial fibrillation. I immediately connected it to the Fosamax, contacted Merck and asked if this was a known side effect. They were (or acted) oblivious. I stopped the Fosamax anyhow and my afib went away…although, since then, I have been prone to ectopic beats and irregular beat if I get upset about something. Afib has not returned. I refuse to take any meds for osteoporosism instead I take calcium/magnesium supplements, Vitamin D, salt etc. and my bones are better today than they were when my doctor put me on the Fosamax. I will stick to alternative medicine for the rest of my days.

    Posted on June 16, 2008 at 8:53 pm

  • Martha says:

    I am a 62 year old female who took Foamax for 4 years untill my dentist asked me to stop taking it in Dec.because of the rick to the jaw. I had a bout with a-fib in june that sent me to the er at a cost of $5,345.I now take blood thiners and Toporal and worry about my health every day.

    Posted on October 5, 2008 at 5:08 pm

  • Greta says:

    Before 2007 I had two episodes of Atrial Fibrillation, years apart. After beginning Fosamax my Afibs have greatly increased. I am taking myself off the Fosamax. A bone scan showed very little improvement anyway and I’m not williing to take the risk of continuning rhythm problems. I

    Posted on January 28, 2010 at 11:34 am

  • Sarah says:

    As a small-framed, slight, red-headed female, my doctor appropriately prescribed Fosamax. I took it for about a year, when at my annual check-up she asked, “Has anyone ever told you you have a “kush” sound in your heart? (What?!?) I have records from Tamoxifen study participation (1994-99) and required educator annual check-up reports for years. never any heart trouble. I was hospitalized in April 2007 with wildly irregular heartbeat, that had been building for about five months. All causse were ruled out, except Fosamax use.

    Posted on March 21, 2010 at 9:27 pm

  • Butch says:

    I’m a 50 year old male diagnosed with osteoporosis. I have been taking actonel/fosamax for 5 years. I didn’t think I was having any problems along this line until I had to have a cracked tooth removed, and my dentist and oral surgeon would not do anything until I had been off of the fosamx for 90 days. The oral surgery went fine, and I have not had any problems with the recovery. Talking to my Primary doctor, I told him of the side effects I have read about and was completely aggrevated about the dental side of things, and
    I did not want to go back to the fosamax. My heart rate and EKG’s (at this time) have been relatively normal – with no current indications of Atrial Fibrillation. He made note also that from a
    recent CT Scan that I had, I also have a hiatel hernia (I had one in 2000 which was surgically repaired) – and stated that the FOSAMAX was “probably the reason for the h. hernia.” Has anyone heard of this? He suggested an IV FORM OF FOSAMAX (ZOMETA?) that is given once a year. This is suppose to be
    better than the pills. You look at the side effects and they are almost (if not) identical. One website, a Doctor stated that the IV FORM of treatment can result in “SERIOUS ATRIAL FIBRILLATION.”
    Has anyone dealt with the IV FORM of treatment (apparently fairly new?). I have seen comments from three different people (different sites) that have stated staying with their treatment of calcium w/ vitamin D, magnesium (which I’m also doing along with the fosamax), salt, etc., appears to be much safer than trying to continue with the fosamax – and take their chances with that.

    Posted on July 2, 2010 at 11:53 pm

  • MJ says:

    I stopped taking Fosmax Dec. 2009 after a number of years becaue I felt achy and had pain in y muscles, bones, and jawbone. My jawbone was starting to grind back and forth so I went to the dentist and he made a mold of my teeth so that I could wear the retainer at night. That was a waste of $200.00. Then September 26, 2010, I was admitted to the hospital with a heart rate of 174 and a heart rythmn that was so out of quake. I have never in my life had problems with my heart. I was in CCU for four days because they couldn’t get my heart back in normal rythmn. I am 60 years old, in good health (so I thought).

    Posted on November 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm

  • Devona says:

    I have been battling trigeminal neuralgia for 2 years worse pain I have ever suffered from. It stems from having a tooth pulled and the hole would never completely close due to taking Fosamax. I’m only 47 healthy weight an active person then shouldn’t have happened it’s debilitating! Need answers!

    Posted on July 25, 2017 at 2:45 pm

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