Q. I am a 54-year-old woman, with extremely low cholesterol and no risk factors for heart disease. I had a heart attack resulting from an artery spasm two weeks ago after my second dose of Boniva.
The doctors were totally floored. I am so healthy that it made absolutely no sense. They were unable to find any damage or plaque in my arteries in the angiogram.
I noticed an article you wrote about a woman who also suffered a heart attack while taking Boniva. Is there any new information on a connection between this drug and heart attacks?
I am so angry I even took the drug. My bone density wasn’t that bad.
A. We have forwarded your report to the FDA. It is the second report of heart attack on Boniva we have received, but there is no warning about arterial spasm or heart attacks in the official labeling information and the FDA has not confirmed any link. There are reports that this osteoporosis drug can raise blood pressure and cholesterol.
Most people tolerate Boniva well, but some experience serious heartburn and severe irritation of the esophagus. Others complain of incapacitating muscle or joint pain. Rare cases of jawbone death have also made headlines recently.

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  1. Ricki

    Wow-I am or should I say was the 54yr old person in the original letter. I’m now 58yrs old.
    I was sorry to hear about another “Boniva attack” but it really hit home and sounded all too familiar.
    They finally have admitted that Boniva may cause atrial fibrillation-but I do believe it did cause many heart attacks that went undiagnosed. People probably chucked it off as indigestion and went on with their lives. When I had my attack, the spasm subsided on its own. If I hadn’t gone into the hospital I would never have known that I had one.
    Sally Field is still making her money. I hope more women are refusing the pill and choosing the natural way to combat bone loss.

  2. Anonymous

    Subj: Boniva and my Heart Attack
    This is my story about taking Boniva on a Tuesday morning, and having a heart attack on Wednesday, late afternoon… I am a healthy, 63 ½ year old, I am active, have perfect cholesterol, blood pressure, strong heart, I eat healthy (no red meat/pork) lots of veggies, etc.
    The day before I had the heart attack, I had taken my very FIRST dose of Boniva (the Sally Field wonder drug to help build bone). I took Boniva at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 9 March with no side effects whatsoever. Then, on Wednesday, 10 March, around 4:30 p.m., I was trying to complete a few emails at work. My plan was to finish up so that I could change into my walking clothes and do my daily 3 ½ mile power walk/jog combo before going home to walk my dogs for the evening.
    As I was finishing up for the day, 4:35 p.m., I began to feel a very deep pain in my chest area, and it was extremely uncomfortable. I thought maybe it was indigestion, but it was not a recognizable pain, and it felt different, and kept getting worse by the moment. Very quickly, the pain became more intense and it started to ‘radiate’ across my chest, down my left arm, up my neck and back. I drank a lot of water thinking that might help. I asked some co-workers for aspirin. One woman had an 81 mg which I took, along with a few Tums. I turned off the lights in my office, and just sat slumped in chair trying to catch my breath and waited to to see if the pain would reside.
    Then, around 5:35 p.m., I started to feel better. Around 5:50 p.m., I drove home from work. When I arrived home around 6:15, threw some laundry in the washer and told my husband to start walking the dogs and I would join him. Then suddenly, around 6:30 (about one hour later), the pain came back, but this time, it was extremely intense and much more painful. I called my husband on his cell and said come home now. Within 15 minutes, I was at the ER, admitted, hooked up to I.Vs, EKG, etc. by 7:10 p.m. My blood pressure was 208 over 109 (which I’ve never had a high blood pressure in the past).
    The ER doctor in charge did the first EKG, then immediately did another one and looked me square in the eyes and said “You are having a heart attack right now”. He went out to call the Helicopter guys to transport me to the Washington Hospital Center. While doctor was calling for the MED STAR, I told my husband that “I am leaving, I am leaving”…I felt me leaving my body…up and to the right. I did not know it at the time, but my heart actually quit beating for 30 seconds. I actually saw the ER team preparing me to start the ‘paddles’ but recovered on my own.
    The ER team finally stabilized me enough so that I could be transported via Helicopter (Med Star) to the Washington Hospital Center. The EMTs in the helicopter were incredible! I was rushed to the Cardiac Catherization Unit and the catherization procedure was performed immediately .When the procedure was completed, the doctor said that my arteries and veins were very clear and in excellent shape, and there were NO blockages anywhere! He said I may have had spasms in the arteries (which proved to be incorrect after further testing later during my stay in hospital).
    I was then taken to I.C.U. Early the next morning, they did an echo sonogram. While this test was being administered, one of the top cardiologists in the country looked at the live sonogram and saw the problem immediately. I did have a heart attack, and he couldn’t understand WHY since I was so healthy. He explained “think of three large trees (your three coronary arteries). One of them had a ‘blood clot’ pass through one of the coronary arteries, then went up a ‘branch’ off from one of the main coronaries and the branch was truncated (just cut off, along with the little ‘limbs, etc.) And there was leakage as a result, which damaged that part of my heart.
    After I.C.U., I was moved to the Coronary Care Unit. Another top cardiologist explained to me in detail what he thought occurred (which matched what the doctor in the I.C.U. told me). “Yes, a heart attack, and Yes it is baffling to all of our medical team(s) because you are healthy as any 63 year old we’ve seen. This should not have happened and we don’t understand why.” I explained to him, as I had explained to the Emergency Room, the ICU, and now him, all doctors heard me say over and over, that I had taken my FIRST dose of BONIVA the day before and had absolutely no symptoms of anything until this happened. I just couldn’t let this go because this was the ONLY thing that I had done differently in my daily routine. At this juncture, I kept insisting.
    The doctor then ordered a Cardiac MRI which he said would confirm his diagnosis of the piece of my coronary/vein being blown away. The results proved what he thought…a branch from one of my arteries was just gone, truncated. And, he wanted to confer with one of the top cardio guys (Dr. Saddler) why this happened and what the course of action should be to prevent this from occurring again. The result of that meeting concluded that NO doctor could figure out WHY this occurred in a perfectly healthy woman. They could NOT figure out why this happened because I was so extremely healthy. He went on to say that they very rarely see this occur; this is highly irregular and unusual, etc. I kept emphasizing the fact that the ONLY thing I did different was to take my FIRST dose of BONIVA. Then 35 hours later I had suffered a heart attack.
    Finally, they had reached a dead end. They thought that maybe a complete, very detailed blood work-up would turn something over by doing a hematology profile. One of the hematologists questioned me at length, and then concluded that there was NO reason to do any extensive blood work because I did not fit the profile for blood clots, etc. So, she conferred with her team. I did express my Boniva concern and she actually listened to me. She was very interested in the Boniva connection. She then left to meet with her team of hematologists to see if they concurred with her recommendation.
    In the meantime, the resident doctor (who I kept re-iterating to about my connection between my heart attack and my first dose of Boniva) came in and I told her that the hematologist doctor was very interested in the Boniva theory. Well, she finally listened, did some research on the internet and returned to my room very excited. YES, there are now cases reported to FDA with a connection between Boniva and heart attacks in HEALTHY women, such as me. I finally had my first believer.
    A short while later, the whole TEAM of hematologist doctors arrived and told me I was extremely healthy. Because of that very reason, there was no need to do the extensive blood work. They too were completely baffled why this heart attack occurred. While I had their attention, I did share the findings about the Boniva/Heart Attack connection that the resident doctor had found. They too became very interested and really listened to me, took notes, etc.
    As soon as I was discharged, I contacted my OB/GYN (who prescribed Boniva). She said she is going to put out a medical alert that Boniva could be a possible risk factor in heart attacks in healthy women. I’ve contacted my family physician. The resident doctor at WHC is also interested in the outcome.
    I met with my local cardiologist and he is concerned as well. He knows that I am healthy (eat well, exercise, good cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) He was very, very upset and surprised that such a healthy person could have a heart attack and suffer heart damage as a result.

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