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Zithromax, Levaquin Linked to Cardiac Arrhythmia, Death Risk

Zithromax, Levaquin Linked to Cardiac Arrhythmia, Death Risk

March 13, 2014 — The Annals of Family Medicine has published a study of over 1.6 million people on antibiotics, concluding that people on Zithromax (azithromycin) or Levaquin (levofloxacin) are significantly more likely to experience abnormal heart rhythm or death compared to patients who receive Amoxil (amoxicilin).

Researchers observed the following increased risks:

  • Zithromax or Zmax: In days 1-5 of treatment, 77% increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia and 48% increased risk of death. Zithromax is typically administered in a 5-day course of treatment — no increased risk was seen in days 6-10.
  • Levaquin: In days 1-5 of treatment, 2.4-fold increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia, and 2.5-fold increased risk of death. During days 6-10, statistically significant increased risks remained. Levaquin is typically administered for 10 days.

The lead author on the study, Dr. Scott Strayer of the University of South Carolina, pointed out that there are other antibiotic options available that do not increase a patient’s risk of cardiovascular events or death. Doctors should carefully consider these options, especially when treating patients who are elderly or high-risk.

In a statement to heartwire, he said:

“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. … 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.”

FDA Warnings for Zithromax and Heart Risks

This is not the first time Zithromax has been linked to cardiovascular risks. In May 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study linking Zithromax to an increased risk of sudden cardiovascular death. In March 2013, the FDA published a Safety Communication concluding that Zithromax could increase the risk of deadly irregular heart rhythm. Click here to read more.

Do I have a Zithromax Lawsuit?

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