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FDA warns heart patients of risk from antibiotic azithromycin

The Food and Drug Administration is warning that that the antibiotic azithromycin can cause dangerous changes in heart rhythm in patients already taking medications for heart arrhythmia. (Kari Rene Hall / Los Angeles Times)

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday warned that the widely prescribed antibiotic azithromycin — marketed as Zithromax and Zmax — may cause potentially fatal changes in the heart rhythm of people who are taking medications to treat existing heart arrhythmia or who have a slower-than normal heart beat or magnesium or potassium deficiencies.

Patients with a prolonged QT interval, a heart rhythm irregularity that is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias, also should avoid use of the antibiotic, the FDA warned.

Azithromycin, one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, is used to treat bacterial infections such as ear infections in children, urinary infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease.

The FDA’s finding follows a warning about the potential for dangerous heart arrhythmias in certain patients taking the antibiotic levofloxacin (marketed as Levaquin). Levofloxacin and azithromycin were found to pose the same risk of death in heart patients. Two other antibiotics — amoxycillin and ciprofloxacin — did not increase those patients’ risks, the FDA said.

Reff.LATimes

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Lifestyle habits put cardiovascular disease progress at risk

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Also, increasing rates of obesity are leading to a higher prevalence of one of its main comorbidities, type 2 diabetes, which stood at 8% in this year’s report.

“Those are really troubling figures when we think down the road about the future of cardiovascular disease in America,” Arnett told MedPage Today.

While 68% of adults are overweight or obese, more than a third (35%) are fully obese. For children, 32% are overweight or obese and 17% are fully obese.

Inactivity is high for both adults and children as well. A third of adults said they didn’t get any leisure-time physical activity, while 18% of high-school girls and 10% of high-school boys didn’t get 60 minutes a day of moderate activity over the course of a week.

Changing those behaviors is clearly a large challenge, Arnett said, but clinicians can also go after “lower-hanging fruit.” Particularly, high blood pressure — which accounts for 41% of cardiovascular disease mortality — should be targeted, she said.

Arnett added that high cholesterol would be another “low-hanging fruit” to target, as 14% of adults currently have uncontrolled high cholesterol, above 240 mg/dL.

Ref. Heart Disease and Stroke 2013 Statistical Update

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