Researchers have found a link between two types of heart problems and one of the most commonly prescribed classes of antibiotics.
In a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that current users of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as Ciprofloxacin or Cipro, face a 2.4 times greater risk of developing aortic and mitral regurgitation, where the blood backflows into the heart, compared to patients who take amoxicillin, a different type of antibiotic.
The greatest risk is within 30 days of use.
“You can send patients home with a once-a-day pill,” this class of antibiotics is very convenient, but for the majority of cases, especially community-related infections, they’re not really needed. The inappropriate prescribing may cause both antibiotic resistance as well as serious heart problems,” said study lead author Mahyar Etminan, Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia.
For the study, the research team analysed data from the US Food and Drug Administration’s adverse reporting system.
They also analysed a massive private insurance health claims database in the US that captures demographics, drug identification, dose prescribed and treatment duration.
Researchers identified 12,505 cases of valvular regurgitation with 125,020 case-control subjects in a random sample of more than nine million patients.
They defined current fluoroquinolone exposure as an active prescription or 30 days before the adverse event, recent exposure as within days 31 to 60, and past exposure as within 61 to 365 days prior to an incident.
They compared fluoroquinolone use with amoxicillin and azithromycin.
The results showed that the risk of aortic and mitral regurgitation, blood backflow into the heart, is highest with current use, followed by recent use.
“This study highlights the need to be thoughtful when prescribing antibiotics, which can sometimes cause harm,” said Bruce Carleton from BC Children’s Hospital in Canada.