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FDA Warns Antibiotic May Cause Irregular Heartbeat

 Posted on May 13, 2013 in Drugs

Azithromycin, also known as Zithromax, Zmax, or Z-pack, is a best-selling antibiotic used to treat many ailments. It is most frequently prescribed to treat middle ear infections, pneumonia, typhoid, bronchitis, strep throat, and sinusitis. It has also used for treatment of certain sexually transmitted infections (cervicitis, nongonococcal urethritis, and Chlamydia). Its primary use in recent years has been to aid in fighting bacterial infections in infants or people who have weaker immune systems.

Every drug package lists its side effects, and the ones reported most often with the use of azithromycin were diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. However, a new finding by the FDA in 2013 shows that this drug may cause changes in a heart's electrical activity—which in turn may lead to a deadly heart rhythm. The patients that face this risk the most are those with existing heart conditions—slower-than-normal heart rate, an arrhythmia (or those taking certain medications for their arrhythmia —existing QT interval prolongation, and those with low blood levels of potassium and magnesium.

Although this is possibility considered low-risk, one health specialist did acknowledge that patients with heart disease should probably not take this antibiotic.

The findings came from a study done last year by the New England Journal of Medicine. It showed that within five days of using azithromycin, there would be 47 extra heart-related deaths per one million. This was found in comparison of amoxicillin or other popular antibiotics, where heart-related deaths occur within 10 days of usage.

Unfortunately, prescribed drugs are often recalled or found to have more serious side effects than originally thought. If you've taken azithromycin or another pill and experienced negative and dangerous side effects, you may be able to file a claim. Our law firm covers cases throughout Northern Illinois, so contact us today to see if you are eligible for compensation.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

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