Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are often used to treat serious respiratory infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and even plague and exposure to anthrax. They include drugs sold under the names ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), norfloxacin (Noroxin) and ofloxacin (Floxin).
The drugs may cause aortic aneurysm, a bulge in an artery that can grow and burst, causing dangerous or fatal bleeding.
Patients most at risk for an aortic aneurysm after taking these antibiotics are the elderly, those with high blood pressure, people who have a history of blockages of the aorta or other blood vessels, and those who have genetic conditions like Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
“Although the risk of aortic aneurysm or dissection is low, we’ve observed that patients are twice as likely to experience an aortic aneurysm or dissection when prescribed a fluoroquinolone drug,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “For patients who have an aortic aneurysm or are known to be at risk of an aortic aneurysm, we do not believe the benefits outweigh this risk, and alternative treatment should be considered.”
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