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Z-Pac and Cardiovascular Risk

When I get sick, I assume an antibiotic will solve my problems.  I’m slightly allergic to amoxicillin. Zithromax, Z-Pak (Z-Pac, I’ve seen both), Zmax, or any similar antibiotic to treat bacterial infections is my drug of choice for ear infections, strep throat, pneumonia, traveler’s diarrhea, or other intestinal infections.

There are risks with any drug.  You have been told that time and time again. But if you are like me, you just want to feel better and you have a history with antibiotics of doing just that.

A new study underscores that maybe we should slow our roll in racing to get Zithromax.  Because the study suggests that the potential side effects are more than just theoretical and can increase the risk of heart problems and death.  This gets my attention. Because I’d rather be sick than dead.

Z-Pac

Azithromycin an oral tablet that is available as both a generic and brand-name drug is one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in the country, and is also known as Zithromaz, Z-Pak, Zmax. Azithromycin has been studied as part of a possible treatment combination for COVID-19. Although it has not been proven effective for treating Covid-19, this antibiotic has been used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. It is a macrolide-type antibiotic, which works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

Latest Literature

According to recent medical journal reports, there is an association between the use of azithromycin-based antibiotics and death due to heart problems within just five days of exposure. It was commonly noted that side effects of azithromycin can include, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and headaches. The worst side effects have been documented as being allergic reactions, liver problems, and QT prolongation, which can cause a fast or irregular heart rhythm.

The prolonged QT interval is widely seen and associated with the potentially deadly rhythm, Torsades de Pointes (TdP). While it can occur spontaneously in the congenital form, there is a wide array of drugs, such as Azithromycin that have been implicated in the prolongation of the QT interval.  QT prolongation is a heart rhythm condition that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats might trigger you to suddenly faint.  While prolonged QT interval has commonly been associated with the drug, new reports found that Zithromax was linked to an 82% increased risk of cardiovascular death.

The retrospective study that was done, looked at nearly 8 million prescriptions given to 3 million patients over 16 years. The study found that, compared with the use of amoxicillin, azithromycin was associated with approximately twice the risk of cardiovascular death and non-cardiovascular death within 5 days of exposure.

The FDA previously issued a Zithromax drug safety communication, warning that the drug can disrupt the electrical activity of the heart. Federal drug regulators also warned that the side effects of Zithromax can cause serious and potentially life-threatening abnormal heart activity.  Multiple medial journals have published reports warning of the potential Zithromax heart risks. These reports found that patients were 2.5 times more likely to die due to heart-related problems on a five day Zithromax treatment when they compared it to treatment with other antibiotics or no antibiotic therapy. Despite these reports, the drug has continued to be widely distributed across the country.  As I’m sure it should be.  It is all about cost/benefit and talking to your doctor about whether the risks are worth it for you.  This is true with Z-Pak but it is also true with any other drug or treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Z-Pac Safety

Does Z-Pak make your heart beat faster?

Some patients will have an increased heart rate while taking Z-Pak. There are reports of some patients having heart rates that go as high as 200 beats per minute. For most of us, it just means a faster heart rate. (I could not find a study that shows how much faster on average it is.)

Does Z-Pac have serious side effects?

Z-Pac is like any drug. They all carry risks. In this case, there are five big risks that jump off the page:

  1. Abnormal heart rhythm
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Liver Problems
  4. Myasthenia gravis worsening
  5. Renal complications

That is not a laundry list and you really want to talk to your doctor about your opinions. The key is to weigh the risks and benefits. Long-term use will typically increase the risks of the drug.

Is Z-Pac bad for your heart?

It certainly can be. There may be a 2.5-fold increase in heart-related death for patients within five days of beginning Z-Pac compared to amoxicillin. The risk is even greater for people who have a history of heart problems.

Can Z-Pac treat COVID-19?

I’m writing this on July 8, 2020. There is no scientific evidence that azithromycin can treat the coronavirus. Some suspect that it may be helpful as a part of a cocktail treatment. But who knows?

Is your law firm handling Z-Pak heart attack lawsuits?

The azithromycin heart attack cases our firm reviews involve medical malpractice claims that the prescribing doctor knew or should have known of the patient’s prior heart condition. If you think you may have a claim, you can get a case evaluation online. Our lawyers can tell you without even speaking with you whether you may have a viable claim.

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