Washington: In a new study, researchers have established the link between one of the most commonly prescribed class of antibiotics and heart problems.
In a study published 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.
Some physicians favour fluoroquinolones over other antibiotics for their broad spectrum of antibacterial activity and high oral absorption, which is as effective as intravenous, or IV, treatment.
"You can send patients home with a once-a-day pill," said Mahyar Etminan, lead author and associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences in the faculty of medicine at University of British Columbia.
"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," added Etminan.
"One of the key objectives of the Therapeutic Evaluation Unit is to evaluate different drugs and health technologies to determine whether they enhance the quality of care delivered by our programs or improve patient outcomes," said Dr Bruce Carleton, director of the unit and research investigator at BC Children's Hospital, a program of PHSA.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the US Food and Drug Administration's adverse reporting system. They also analyzed a massive private insurance health claims database in the U.S. 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 prior to 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. They saw no increased risk aortic and mitral regurgitation with past use.