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arrhythmia causes: side effect of drug? anemia?
Feb 20, 2004

A close friend was diagnosed w/AIDS and MAC recently and I feel as if we aren't getting answers from doctors, though maybe this is because there isn't a definite answer.His latest symptom is arrythmia, and his doctors have said there is nothing to be done at present, because the arrhythmia is probably but not certainly caused by anemia from MAC. (His resting heart rate is about 130, and after walking a couple of blocks to the hospital, it's gone up to 170.) There's been no talk re. the possibility of whether this may be a side effect of AZT or any of the other drugs he's taking. I know you can't answer this definitely, but does it seem likely that this arrhythmia is due to the anemia from the MAC? Is there another OI that might be the cause that his doctors should check for? Should his doctors reconsider some of the drugs he's taking or think about changing his doses? Is there a drug his doctors should consider giving him for the arrhythmia? Sorry to be so vague, and thanks for any info you might be able to give.

Response from Dr. Boyle

Based on the limited information you provide, it is certainly possible that anemia is the cause of the arrythmia (which sounds like it is resting tachycardia), but other causes (e.g., decreased oxygenation due to pulmonary problems) should be considered and ruled out. If it is the anemia that is causing the problem, the presence of AZT, which can cause anemia, may be exacerbating it. If the anemia is this symptomatic (presuming that that is the cause), he should be evaluated to determine the cause and, if appropriate, should receive erythropoietin and/or blood transfusions to improve it.

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