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Zithromax associated with higher death risk for heart disease patients

Filed May 18th, 2012 Laurie

A new study has linked use of the widely-prescribed antibiotic Zithromax (azithromycin) with an increased risk of death for patients with heart disease.

According to a HealthDay News report, researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine have added azithromycin to a growing list of antibiotic drugs known to carry specific risks to patients suffering from heart disease. Previous studies had excluded the drug from those known to pose a death risk. The study has been published in the most recent edition of New England Journal of Medicine.

In it, doctors are urged to consider alternate forms of antibiotic drugs like amoxicillin, which is not known to pose any risks to patients suffering from heart disease. A doctor typically determines the appropriate antibiotic drug to use in specific cases based on the severity of infections.

The study examined a pool of more than 348,000 Medicaid-eligible patients taking azithromycin for the study. A sample group including more than 1.3 million people taking amoxicillin were used to compare the risks. Nearly 300,000 more took Cipro and another nearly 200,000 took Levaquin to compare those risks, too. Against taking no antibiotics at all, Zithromax was found to cause a slightly increased risk of sudden death. Amoxicillin was shown to pose no death risk.

The “absolute death risk” determined by the study was 47 per 1 million prescriptions written for azithromycin.

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