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Side effects of Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox and other similar antibiotics may cause heart valves to leak, increasing the risk of heart failure, according to the findings of a new study.
Canadian researchers report that antibiotics that are part of a controversial class of medications known as fluoroquinolones (FQs) can carry over double the risk of aortic and mitral regurgitation, which can lead to heart failure, according to findings published earlier this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The study looked at data from the FDA’s adverse event reporting system, reviewing current, recent and past fluoroquinolone exposure to determine rate ratios of aortic and mitral regurgitation. The fluoroquinolone issues were compared to those associated with individuals who took other types of antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and azithromycin.
Aortic and mitral regurgitation occurs when heart valves leak, and can lead to heart failure if untreated. Researchers collected data on 12,502 people with heart valve regurgitation and compared them to 125,020 controls.
According to the findings, the risk of heart valve regurgitation with current use of Levaquin and similar drugs was 240% higher than among those taking amoxicillin, and 75% higher than those taking azithromycin.
However, the risk appeared to drop off significantly with recent or past use, with recent use still carrying a significantly increased risk, suggesting that the risk fades over time.
“These results show that the risk of aortic and mitral regurgitation is highest with current use followed by recent use. No risk was observed with past use of FQs,” the researchers concluded. “Future studies are necessary to confirm or refute these associations.”
Fluoroquinolone Health Risks
Researchers in the latest study decided to look at the risk of heart valve regurgitation in Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox following recent studies which linked the drugs to aortic aneurysm and aortic dissections.
In March 2018, a study published in The BMJ found that there were 1.2 cases of aortic aneurysm or dissection for every 1,000 person years of use of the drugs; a 66% increase when compared to amoxicillin.
In addition, researchers from Baylor College, who conducted tests on mice using fluoroquinolone antibiotics, indicated they found the drug appeared to increase the risk of aortic aneurysms or aortic dissections in mice with already stressed aortas. Healthy aortas appeared to be unaffected.
In October 2015, a report published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that current use of Levaquin, Avelox or other similar fluoroquinolone antibiotics was associated with a two-fold increased risk of suffering an aortic aneurysm or dissection injury. The research was conducted to examine whether the known risk of collagen degredation from fluoroquinolones, which causes the risk of tendon ruptures, may also cause problems with the aorta.
The FDA issued a major fluoroquinolone antibiotics warning in May 2016, indicating that a variety of “disabling and potentially serious side effects” led the agency to conclude that the risks may outweigh the benefits associated with using the medications to treat uncomplicated infections. However, that warning focused on reports of permanent nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy, as well as tendon ruptures and other health risks, and 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, independent studies since then seem to contradict those findings.
Over the past several years, hundreds of Levaquin lawsuits, Avelox lawsuits and Cipro lawsuits were filed throughout the federal court system, alleging that the drug makers failed to warn about potential side effects allegedly caused by the antibiotics. Most of those cases have been settled by the drug makers.