New Delhi/Mumbai: A US study has found that the commonly used antibiotic, azithromycin, poses a big threat to the heart. The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that azithromycin can cause cardiovascular death.
According to the study, azithromycin poses a two-and-a-half time higher risk of cardiovascular death compared to other antibiotics or no antibiotic.
Doctors have found that heart patients on statins are never prescribed azithromycin because of the high risk of muscle damage.
The researchers studied about 3,48,000 patients on azithromycin and found 47 more deaths per million, compared to those on the antibiotic amoxicillin. The situation was worse in case of heart patients with 245 more cardiovascular deaths per million.
"254 cases in one million people, the risk not so grave. There are a lot of people who are allergic to penicillin, so for them azithromycin is still helpful," says drug expert Dr CM Gulati.
"Azithromycin is extensively prescribed for children and I don't think it will pose any hazard there. But for people with pre-existing heart disease, taking cognizance of this data, one would avoid this antibiotic," says Endocrinologist, Jaslok Hospital Dr HB Chandalia.
Azithromycin is primarily used to treat respiratory infections, acute bacterial bronchitis and skin infections. It is often prescribed to people who get frequent chest infections.