Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common antibiotic linked to heart deaths

Date:
August 19, 2014
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
The antibiotic clarithromycin -- widely used for treating common bacterial infections -- is associated with an increased risk of heart deaths, finds a study. The authors say their findings require urgent confirmation, given that many millions of people are prescribed the drug each year. But they stress that the absolute risk is small and that prescribing practice should not be changed until results have been confirmed in an independent study.

Antibiotics (stock image). After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, baseline cardiac risk and use of other medication, ongoing use of clarithromycin was associated with a 76% higher risk of cardiac death compared with use of penicillin V.
Credit: sommai / Fotolia

The antibiotic clarithromycin -- widely used for treating common bacterial infections -- is associated with an increased risk of heart deaths, finds a study published on thebmj.com today.

The authors say their findings require urgent confirmation, given that many millions of people are prescribed the drug each year. But they stress that the absolute risk is small and that prescribing practice should not be changed until results have been confirmed in an independent study.

Clarithromycin belongs to a group of antibiotics known as macrolides. Macrolide antibiotics prolong the duration of electrical activity of the heart muscle (known as the QT interval) and are therefore thought to increase the risk of potentially fatal heart rhythm problems.

Given this background, the cardiac safety profiles of individual macrolides need to be studied in greater detail to help guide clinical treatment decisions.

So a team of Danish researchers decided to assess the risk of cardiac death associated with clarithromycin and another macrolide called roxithromycin, compared with penicillin V, an antibiotic with no known cardiac risk.

Using national databases, they identified over 5 million treatment courses among Danish adults aged 40-74 years from 1997 to 2011 (160,297 with clarithromycin, 588,988 with roxithromycin and 4,355,309 with penicillin V).

Individuals with serious disease, who may be at high baseline risk of death, were excluded from the analysis.

A total of 285 cardiac deaths were observed during ongoing use with the study drugs, 18 of which occurred during use of clarithromycin and 32 during use of roxithromycin.

After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, baseline cardiac risk and use of other medication, ongoing use of clarithromycin was associated with a 76% higher risk of cardiac death compared with use of penicillin V. There was no increased risk of cardiac death with clarithromycin after treatment had ended.

The absolute risk difference was 37 cardiac deaths per 1 million courses with clarithromycin. No increased risk of cardiac death was found with ongoing or past use of roxithromycin.

"Our study expands on the available knowledge of the cardiac safety of macrolides, being the first large scale population based observational study to show significantly increased cardiac risk with clarithromycin and the relative cardiac safety of roxithromycin," write the authors.

The authors emphasise that the absolute increase in risk is small and should have limited, if any, effect on the prescribing practice in individual patients. However, they note, "clarithromycin is one of the more commonly used antibiotics in many countries and many millions of people are prescribed this drug each year; thus, the total number of excess (potentially avoidable) cardiac deaths may not be negligible."

Before these results are used to guide clinical decision making, "confirmation in independent populations is an urgent priority given the widespread use of macrolide antibiotics," they conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Common antibiotic linked to heart deaths." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819200059.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2014, August 19). Common antibiotic linked to heart deaths. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819200059.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Common antibiotic linked to heart deaths." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819200059.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins