Common antibiotic carries cardiovascular risks

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 28, 2012

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Patients taking a five-day course of azithromycin have a higher risk of death due to cardiovascular causes, such as myocardial infarction, than individuals using amoxicillin, says a study in the May 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The risk was greater among individuals with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, such as people who smoke or have a poor diet.

Researchers examined data on 347,795 people age 30 to 74 enrolled in Tennessee’s Medicaid program who were prescribed azithromycin between 1992 and 2006. Participants were excluded if they had a life-threatening illness other than a cardiovascular condition, were diagnosed with drug abuse or had been hospitalized in the previous 30 days. Researchers compared the findings with those from a control group of patients who took amoxicillin.

Among patients who took a five-day course of azithromycin, there were 85.2 cardiovascular deaths per 1 million courses of the drug, data show. During the first five days of amoxicillin treatment, there were 31.5 deaths per 1 million courses. The increased risk of cardiovascular death did not persist after the treatment ended, the study said (link).

The researchers recommend that before prescribing azithromycin for a patient, health professionals consider the severity of the individual’s infection, potential adverse effects from the drug and the availability of alternative antibiotics. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the study and said patients should not stop taking their medication without first talking to their physicians.

Note: This item originally appeared at

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn