View Full Version : Cardiac Risks With Antibiotics Azithromycin, Levofloxacin Supported by VA Data

Tue 11th March '14, 6:47pm
From Medscape at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/821697?src=smo_tw_phar

COLUMBIA, SC – Data from a large cohort of patients enrolled at US Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers support recent conclusions that treatment with the antithrombotic azithromycin (Zithromax/Zmax, Pfizer) significantly increases the risk of death and cardiac arrhythmia in the first five days of treatment[1].

In addition, investigators showed the antibiotic levofloxacin (Levaquin, Janssen Pharmaceuticals) was associated with a significantly increased risk of death and cardiac arrhythmia when compared with patients treated with amoxicillin.

"Like all medications, clinicians should remember that the uses of antibiotics are not free of serious adverse events," lead author Dr Cowthan Rao (University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC) told heartwire . "For every patient, we should weigh the risks and benefits of antibacterial therapies and promote patients to be part of a shared decision making."

As the researchers also point out in their paper, which is published March 10, 2014 in the Annals of Family Medicine, there are other antibiotic options for patients, especially if the patient is older or may have cardiac comorbidities.

For senior author Dr Scott Strayer (University of South Carolina), the findings have clinical relevance, given that these medications are often overprescribed.

"The findings are particularly important in light of the fact that nearly 50% of patients continue to receive antibiotics, especially broad-spectrum antibiotics, for illnesses such as 'acute cough,' which may not require antibiotics at all," he told heartwire . "If we assumed that 50% of the 40 million outpatient prescriptions for azithromycin written in 2011 were unnecessary, then based on the data, it may be reasonable to estimate 4560 deaths were caused by [this] antibiotic."