Levaquin, Cipro, Similar Antibiotics Linked To Heart Valve Problems: Study

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

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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 lawsuitsAvelox 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.

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  1. Mark Reply

    Thank you for your continuing coverage of the fluoroquinolone disaster. I was the closing speaker at the FDA/CDC meeting in 2015 that led to the announcements and label changes in 2016. There is nothing in the world that wreaks more havoc from head to toe than this class of drugs, also known as FQs. I urge everyone who reads this to google the word “floxed”, the slang term for our condition, which comes from the generic names which end in “…floxacin”. Also look up FQAD, the term that FDA came up with for those of us who are disabled by these drugs. You need to know about this because these adverse reactions are quite common, just under-reported and routinely misdiagnosed as fibro, lupus, ALS, Parkinson’s, MS, autoimmune disorders and so on. If you or someone you know has unusual or unexplained health problems, chances are pretty good that it was FQs…

  2. E Reply

    Little did I know! Had been prescribed a “flox” medication for a UTI. Two months later my Echo showed a 25% aortic valve insufficiency which had not been the case on a previous Echo. Am now on magnesium due to leg and hand cramps, which are something new.

  3. Bonnie Reply

    I was hospitalized twice in 2018, once for 2 months and 4 months later for 4 months. Both times required use of some heavy duty antibiotics. And prior to these hospitalizations I probably had taken antibiotics around 5 times over the last 30 years. I have always tried to find home remedy cures to infections, which most times would normally work. And when I did need to take antibiotics, they would work abnormally fast.

    During the 4 month stay, I was so sick I could not adequately manage my health care. I also had no one, wise enough who found the doctors use, of antibiotics, alarming. AND, I was never even warned of the potential side effects. After my initial hospitalization for a spinal infection, I was sent to a rehab hospital. While I was there, it was later determined I had heart issues, and consequently ad to have a heart valve replaced. And am now battling short of breath and edema, which I never had before the hospitalization.

    I do not remember what antibiotics they had me on, but the hospital had a difficult time finding me a rehab hospital, to relocate to, from the initial hospitalization, due to its cost.

  4. Naomi Reply

    I had taken levofloxacin several times over the past few years for recurring pneumonia. The last time I was on it, about a year ago, I had severe, constant, painful palpitations. I contacted my doctor and he switched me to amoxicillin.

    Almost two months ago, at work, I had constant palpitations, was short of breath, had chest pains, and was lightheaded. Being a restaurant manager, I worked long hours, about 13 a day and had no problems doing it up until the last two days I worked. I spent the weekend barely able to walk courtesy of the PVCs and shortness of breath. My PCP saw me the next day and referred me to a cardiologist who did the typical testing.

    I found out today that both my mitral and pulmonary valves are regurgitating and one of them has stenosis (I forget which one). I am now being sent to a specialist in DC to further evaluate and develop a treatment plan.

    Up until this I was walking about 8 miles a day at a pretty fast clip and carrying 60+ lb tubs of potatoes on my shoulder. Now, I’m lucky if I can walk a mile at a slow pace with breaks to sit and it not take me 90 minutes.

    I had filed for short term disability through my employer….it’s been more than 5 weeks and do you think that anything has materialized out of it yet? Nope! Sooooo, not only can I not do the job I was doing, I am also sinking financially. If anyone has an ideas, please share them with me.

    Thank you and be blessed!

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