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Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Increase Risk of Aortic Aneurysm, Dissection: Study

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Researchers from Taiwan indicate that they have found new evidence linking the side effects of Levaquin, Avelox, Cipro and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics to an increased risk of aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection and other collagen disorders. 

In a study published online September 10 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, individuals taking antibiotics from a class known as fluoroquinolones faced more than doubled the risk of aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection (AA/AD).

Aortic aneurysm is a painful and potentially serious condition involving a bulge in the aorta, where the walls of the artery have weakened. It can result in severe chest pain, as well as carry the risk of rupturing.

Aortic dissections are similar, but a potentially more serious and life-threatening condition, involving degradation within the layers of the aorta. Both pose a serious health risk and usually require invasive surgery to treat.

In this latest study, researchers looked at data on 1,213 hospital patients who had been given a Avelox, Cipro or Levaquin within a 60-day period before they were diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection. The researchers also looked at those who received the medications up to 180 days before such an event.

According to the findings, after adjusting for infections and other medications, the risk of aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection was doubled for patients who had received one of the antibiotics within a 60 day period. The study also found that the risks increased the longer the patient was prescribed one of the antibiotics.

“Exposure to fluoroquinolone was substantially associated with AA/AD,” the researchers concluded. “This risk was modified by the duration of fluoroquinolone use and the length of the hazard period.”

Antibiotic Side Effects

Concerns about the risk of aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm with fluoroquinolone antibiotics emerged in late 2015, following the publication of a report in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which found that current use of Levaquin, Avelox or other similar antibiotics was associated with a two-fold increased risk of suffering an aortic aneurysm or dissection injury.

That research was initiated to examine whether the known risk of collagen degredation associated with fluoroquinolones, which have previously been associated with reports of tendon ruptures and retinal detachment, may also cause problems with the aorta, which is the main artery of the body, supplying oxygenated blood to the circulatory system.

The FDA issued a major fluoroquinolone antibiotics warning in May 2016, due to a variety of “disabling and potentially serious side effects,” which led the agency to conclude that the risks may outweigh the benefits associated with using the medications to treat uncomplicated infections.

That warning concerned reports of permanent nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, as well as tendon ruptures and other health risks. However, the statement did not address concerns about the risk of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection from the antibiotics, which emerged with the publication of an independent study months earlier.

In May 2017, the FDA issued another drug safety communication indicating that it found no link between Cipro and similar antibiotics and an increased risk of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection. However, this latest study seems to provide some additional information about the potential link and biological mechanism, which may cause the regulatory agency to re-evaluate the prior communication.

There are currently hundreds of Levaquin lawsuitsAvelox lawsuits and Cipro lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system over side effects allegedly caused by the antibiotics, including claims for individuals diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm or dissection injury.

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