The United States Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Thursday stating some common antibiotics can cause cause dangerous or fatal bleeding.
The agency’s recent review of four published observational studies found fluoroquinolone antibiotics, commonly sold as Cipro, Factive, Levaquin, Avelox or Floxin, “can increase the occurrence of rare but serious events of ruptures or tears in the main artery of the body, called the aorta” when given by mouth or through an injection.
These ruptures (or aortic dissections) are considered very serious conditions. When the inner layer of the large blood vessel tears, “blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate,” according to the Mayo Clinic. If the channel ruptures through the outside aortic wall, the tears are often fatal.
The FDA urges fluoroquinolones, antibiotics typically used to treat or prevent certain bacterial infections, should not be used in patients at increased risk of aortic dissection, such as people with a history of aneurysms or blockages of the aorta or other blood vessels. Individuals with high blood pressure, certain genetic disorders involving blood vessels or the elderly should also avoid use unless no other treatment options are available, according to the agency.
The new risk guidance will be added to the labels and prescribing information of fluoroquinolone drugs.
If you have any of the aforementioned risks, inform your health care professional before starting an antibiotic prescription.
How to spot an aortic dissection
The condition appears similar to heart attack and stroke.
- sudden severe chest or upper back pain
- sudden severe abdominal pain
- shortness of breath
- loss of consciousness
- comparatively weak pulse in one arm or thigh
- leg pain
- sudden difficulty speaking
- loss of vision
- paralysis of one side of your body
- difficulty walking
Anyone experiencing sudden, severe and constant pain in the back, chest or stomach should immediately seek medical attention.
The FDA has previously addressed concerns about fluoroquinolones, from significant decreases in blood sugar, tendinitis and certain mental health side effects.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.