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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Seniors with Pneumonia Lower Death Risk Taking Azithromycin; Slight Chance of Heart Attack

Study suggests the protection from pneumonia outweighs the heart attack risk – see video

June 3, 2014 - In a study that included nearly 65,000 senior patients – age 65 and older -  hospitalized with pneumonia, treatment that included azithromycin compared with other antibiotics was associated with a significantly lower risk of death and a slightly increased risk of heart attack, according to a study in the June 4 issue of JAMA.

Pneumonia and influenza together are the eighth leading cause of death and the leading causes of infectious death in the United States.

Although clinical practice guidelines recommend combination therapy with macrolides (a class of antibiotics), including azithromycin, as first-line therapy for patients hospitalized with pneumonia, recent research suggests that azithromycin may be associated with increased cardiovascular events, according to background information in the article.

THE JAMA REPORT

Click Below to Video

Benefits Of Treating Pneumonia With The Antibiotic Azithromycin Outweighs Increased Heart Attack Risk

 

Eric M. Mortensen, M.D., M.Sc., of the VA North Texas Health Care System and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues assessed the association of azithromycin use and outcomes within 90 days of hospital admission, including cardiovascular events (heart failure, heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias) and death, for patients 65 years and older who were hospitalized with pneumonia at any Veterans Administration acute care hospital from fiscal years 2002 through 2012.

The final analysis included 31,863 patients who received azithromycin and 31,863 matched patients who did not, but some other guideline-concordant therapy.

The researchers found that 90-day mortality was significantly lower in those who received azithromycin (17.4 percent, vs 22.3 percent). There was also an increased odds of heart attack (5.1 percent vs 4.4 percent), but not any cardiac event (43.0 percent vs 42.7 percent), cardiac arrhythmias (25.8 percent vs 26.0 percent), or heart failure (26.3 percent vs 26.2 percent).

“In this national cohort study of veterans hospitalized with pneumonia, azithromycin use was consistently associated with decreased mortality and a slightly increased odds of myocardial infarction,” the authors write.

“To put the balance of benefits and harms in context, based on the propensity-matched analysis, the number needed to treat with azithromycin was 21 to prevent 1 death within 90 days, compared with a number needed to harm of 144 for myocardial infarction. This corresponds to a net benefit of around 7 deaths averted for 1 nonfatal myocardial infarction induced.”

“These findings are consistent with a net benefit associated with azithromycin use in patients hospitalized for pneumonia.”

About Azithromycin

Why is this medication prescribed?

Azithromycin is used to treat certain bacterial infections, such as bronchitis; pneumonia; sexually transmitted diseases (STD); and infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat, and reproductive organs. Azithromycin also is used to treat or prevent disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection [a type of lung infection that often affects people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)]. Azithromycin is in a class of medications called macrolide antibiotics. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics will not kill viruses that can cause colds, flu, or other infections.

Azithromycin is also used sometimes to treat H. pylori infection, travelers' diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal infections; Legionnaires' disease (a type of lung infection); pertussis (whooping cough; a serious infection that can cause severe coughing); and babesiosis (an infectious disease carried by ticks). It is also used to prevent heart infection in people having dental or other procedures, and to prevent STD in victims of sexual assault. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Brand Names

   • Zithromax

   • Zithromax Single Dose Packets

   • Zithromax Tri-Paks

   • Zithromax Z-Paks

   • Zmax

More at MedlinePlus…


FDA Drug Safety Communication: Azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax) and the risk of potentially fatal heart rhythms

Safety Announcement

[3-12-2013]   The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning the public that azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax) can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm. Patients at particular risk for developing this condition include those with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or use of certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias.

More at the FDA website…


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