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BMJ Study: Increased Risk of Cardiac Death Associated with Antibiotic Clarithromycin for Some Patients

A recent study published online by the British Medical Journal found that the antibiotic clarithromycin may increase some patients’ risk of dying from cardiac-related issues.

Clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic prescribed to fight bacteria. It is used to treat many types of bacterial infections, including skin infections and respiratory infections. It can also be used to treat stomach ulcers when taken in combination with other medications.

The cohort study took place in Denmark between the years 1997-2011 with the objective of assessing the risk of cardiac death associated with the use of clarithromycin and roxithromycin — both antibiotics. Danish adults between the ages of 40 and 74 participated in the study and took clarithromycin, roxithromycin, or penicillin V. The researchers found that a total of 285 cardiac deaths occurred during the study period and that use of clarithromycin was associated with a “significantly increased risk of cardiac death (95.3 per 1000 person years; adjusted rate ratio 1.76, 95% confidence interval 1.08 to 2.85), but use of roxithromycin was not (2.5 per 1000 person years; adjusted rate ratio to 1.51).” After analyzing the results, the researchers concluded that “[t]his large cohort study found a significantly increased risk of cardiac death associated with clarithromycin.”


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