The popular sleeping aid Ambien raises the risk of heart attack by 50 percent, according to a report presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Dallas. The study, which was conducted at the China Medical University in Taiwan, is the first to link Ambien, whose generic name is zolpidem, with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.
A separate study presented at the same Dallas convention found that Ambien also increased the risk of aortic dissection — a potentially fatal condition in which the aorta tears and causes internal bleeding. (Actor John Ritter died from an aortic dissection.)
Other studies have also linked Ambien with health risks. A 2012 study found cancer-related deaths were increased among those who used sleeping pills. Other studies have indicated the drug stays in the system longer than thought, and so the FDA wants the recommended dosages cut in half.
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