Antibiotic Increases Risk of Heart Problems
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a new warning about the popular prescription antibiotic Zithromax, commonly known as the "Z-Pack." A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients who took Zithromax, which is the brand-name of the drug azithromycin, had higher rates of fatal heart rhythms. "Zithromax is a common antibiotic that's used for an assortment of common infections like bronchitis, pneumonia, and certain other infections," says KTRH Medical Expert Dr. Joe Galati. Dr. Galati cautions that warnings like this are common with many prescription drugs. "The message here for consumers and patients is you have to be very careful with what antibiotics you are put on by your physician because of potential complications," he says.
The study says those most at risk of developing heart problems after using Zithromax are people with low levels of potassium or magnesium, those with a slower-than-normal heart rate, or those who already take medication for abnormal heart rhythms. Dr. Galati says both doctors and patients bear responsibility when it comes to using prescription medications. "Patients have to realize that they can't simply call up the doctor for a sore throat and get these antibiotics right away....we have to be very careful with how these medicines are given out."
Zithromax is manufactured by Pfizer Inc., which has now released the drug with an updated warning label. The company encourages those taking Zithromax to talk to their doctor to find out if it's still the best treatment or if they are at higher risk.
Tune into Your Health First with Dr. Joe Galati Sundays at 7 p.m. on Newsradio 740 KTRH