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Antibiotic use may lead to heart problems

Scientists working at the University of British Columbia have discovered that users of fluoroquinolone antibiotics have a two-and-a-half-fold higher risk of developing aortic and mitral regurgitation (where blood backflows into the heart), compared to patients who take an alternative called amoxicillin.

Data for the study was drawn from a review of 12,505 cases of valvular regurgitation and compared with 125,020 case-control subjects, drawn from a random sample from a population of some nine million patients.

Fluoroquinolone exposure was defined as an active prescription (30 days) prior to an adverse heart event being recorded. The data relating to fluoroquinolone use was compared with amoxicillin and azithromycin prescribing.

The medics behind the study are aiming for their research to help physicians to make informed choices in relation to patients with cardiac issues. If no other cause has been discovered, then fluoroquinolone antibiotics could potentially be a cause of the heart issue.

The research has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The research paper is titled “Oral Fluoroquinolones and Risk of Mitral and Aortic Regurgitation.”

The UN health agency has warned that without urgent action  the world could be headed for

The UN health agency has warned that without urgent action, the world could be headed for “a post-antibiotic era” in which common infections and minor injuries that have long been treatable once again become killers
Philippe Huguen, AFP/File

In related news, one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics (clarithromycin) is connected with an increased risk of death from heart disease, according to a new study.

The antibiotic clarithromycin is used in the treatment of many bacterial infections and it is administered to millions of people each year. Current clinical advice already discourages the use of the medication patients with certain heart conditions. However, new research into patient data conducted by Danish researchers, shows the use of the antibiotic caused 37 potentially avoidable deaths.

Many antibiotics disrupt the gut microbiome and it is thought that the impact on beneficial bacteria can have different consequences upon human physiology.

Commenting on this news, Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, told The Independent: “All medications can come with side effects, which is why your doctor will always weigh up the risks before prescribing drugs to patients.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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