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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Azithromycin Increases Risk of Death Slightly... Well, So Does Tylenol and Ibuprofen

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The media has made much fuss about a NEJM study suggesting a slight increased risk of death from taking azithromycin or z-pack. The more unhealthy you are, the higher the risk... no duh... (I would think the sicker you are, the greater the risk of death PERIOD... a sick person by definition is closer to death than a healthy person).

How slight? Compared to amoxicillin, about 47 additional cardiovascular deaths per one million courses of therapy.

Never mind the blatant biases found in the study nicely espoused on by cardiologist Dr. Wes in his blog.

Thinking you should never take a z-pack again due to this slight increased risk of death?

Well, good luck finding an alternative medication (of any kind) because they ALL have a potential risk of death.

Similar to z-pack, these other antibiotics also have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death:

• Avelox
• Bactrim
• Biaxin
• Cipro
• Diflucan
• Erythromycin
• Factive
• Floxin
• Foscavir
• Ketek
• Levaquin
• Sporanox
• Sulfa
• Tequin

It's not just antibiotics. These other common medications (not all-inclusive) also have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death:

• Benadryl (allergy)
• Pepcid (reflux)
• Albuterol (asthma)
• Prozac (depression)
• Serevent (asthma)
• Sudafed (decongestant)

The complete list can be found here.

Let's consider other popular drugs that also has an increased risk of death, though not necessarily from a cardiac trigger.

• ALL antibiotics due to a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction - Take Penicillin for example... about 300 die annually from penicillin allergic reaction in the US
• Tylenol causes liver failure - About 400 deaths per year in the US
• Ibuprofen causes internal bleeding - About 15,000 - 20,000 die per year in the US
• Alcohol related deaths - 75,000 deaths per year in the US
• Smoking related deaths - 443,000 deaths per year (one in five deaths) in the US

Never mind deaths from driving a car, accidental gunfire, drowning in a swimming pool, etc.

Life in general in the United States has a risk of death.

Azithromycin may up chance of sudden cardiac death. Heartwire 5/16/12
Popular Antibiotic May Raise Risk of Sudden Death. NYT 5/16/12
Azithromycin and the Risk of Cardiovascular Death. New England Journal of Medicine 2012; 366:1881-1890May 17, 2012

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