Heart Failure - Consumer Justice Foundation

Heart Failure

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Avastin and Heart Failure

Avastin, an anti-cancer medication originally approved by the FDA in 2008, has been the subject of significant criticism recently. Shortly after the FDA recommended that the breast cancer indication be removed from the Avastin label, new studies provide more evidence that the anti-cancer medication increases the risk of congestive heart failure in cancer patients. The FDA revoked approval for the use of Avastin in breast cancer patients based on evidence that the drug not only doesn’t prolong survival in these patients, but also puts them at risk for developing severe side effects, including heart failure, which have been associated with the medication’s use in combination with chemotherapy.

A study published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology involved nearly 4,000 Avastin patients and displayed a significant rate of the development of heart failure. Most of the patients involved in the study began Avastin treatment with with little to no sign of heart issues and then progressively developed signs of heart failure. The cardiovascular system is an integral aspect of our body’s ability to function, and any weakening of this system can have fatal consequences. Impairment of the heart’s function is the main characteristic of heart failure and has been linked to the use of Avastin.

Heart Failure Described

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a serious condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body. There are two types of heart failure: systolic and diastolic. Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood out of the heart very well, and diastolic heart failure is when the heart muscles are stiff and do not fill up with blood easily. When the heart is unable to pump adequate amounts of blood to the rest of the body, there are a number of major complications that may occur. In some cases, blood may back up in certain areas of the body, causing fluid build-up in the lungs, liver, arms, legs and gastrointestinal tract. This may result in a lack of oxygen in the body’s vital organs which may lead to serious damage and even death of organ cells.

The symptoms associated with heart failure typically progress slowly over time and some victims of heart failure may experience no symptoms at all. Many case of heart failure involve difficulties like:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling of feet
  • Irregular or rapid pulse
  • Heart palpitations

Connection Between Avastin and Heart Failure

A recent review of Avastin studies revealed that out of 3,784 individuals, 1.6% of breast cancer patients who took Avastin developed heart failure, a percentage five times higher than in patients who took a placebo. Researchers have indicated that dosage seems to make no difference in the rate of heart failure and was consistent in patients who received both high and low doses of Avastin. According to the FDA, the benefits of a drug must outweigh the risks involved in order for it to remain on the market, but research has indicated that this is not the case with Avastin. According to experts, especially when dealing with drugs which have small benefits like Avastin, the drug must offer patients few adverse side effects. Unfortunately, when drugs like Avastin are approved by the FDA’s accelerated program due to a push to make the medication available to the public, there is a significant potential for risk involved. By allowing drugs to enter the market before adequate testing has been performed, consumers are vulnerable to developing any number of life-altering and potentially fatal side effects.

How to Deal with Avastin-Related Heart Failure

Approximately five million Americans have heart failure and the condition is responsible for 300,000 deaths each year. Heart failure is a serious, chronic condition which may get worse with infection or other physical stress. There are a number of serious complications associated with heart failure, some of which can be deadly, including irregular heart rhythms, pulmonary edema and total heart failure. Furthermore, individuals suffering from heart failure may also struggle with several consequences associated with medications, which can significantly decrease an individual’s quality of life.

Despite the significant potential for danger associated with Avastin, the drug remains on the market. Victims of serious injuries related to the use of Avastin are not at fault and should contact an Avastin attorney immediately to discuss the benefits of filing a defective drug lawsuit. In the case of death associated with Avastin use, families of victims should seek legal guidance as soon as possible. A qualified Avastin lawyer will works towards helping Avastin injury victims or their families receive reimbursement for their injuries as well as bringing public attention to the dangers of drugs like Avastin. If you or a loved one has suffered from heart failure and you believe Avastin to be the cause, an Avastin attorney can help you collect the compensation you deserve.

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