Battle of the antibiotics: Researchers find that Ciprofloxacin is more harmful to the heart than Amoxicillin

A recent study has argued that Ciprofloxacin poses a greater risk for developing a heart-valve problem than another broad-spectrum antibiotic: Amoxicillin.

Myupchar September 13, 2019 17:46:09 IST
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Battle of the antibiotics: Researchers find that Ciprofloxacin is more harmful to the heart than Amoxicillin
  • a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has argued that Ciprofloxacin poses a greater risk for developing a heart-valve problem than another broad-spectrum antibiotic: Amoxicillin

  • In 2017, two separate studies argued that Ciprofloxacin can have a cardio-toxic effect and can cause arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), respectively

  • Current users of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as Ciprofloxacin or Cipro, face a 2.4 times greater risk of developing aortic and mitral regurgitation

Cipro or Ciprofloxacin is one of the most commonly used antibiotics in the world. Doctors prescribe it for a range of diseases - from diarrhoea to pneumonia to urinary tract infections.

Now, a study published on 9 September 2019 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has argued that it poses a greater risk for developing a heart-valve problem than another broad-spectrum antibiotic: Amoxicillin.

Battle of the antibiotics Researchers find that Ciprofloxacin is more harmful to the heart than Amoxicillin

Representational image. Image by Pexels from Pixabay

This is, of course, not the first study to say that Cipro can have side-effects for the heart. In 2017, two separate studies argued that it can have a cardio-toxic effect and can cause arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), respectively.

This research

Researchers of the University of British Columbia said in a statement: “Current users of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as Ciprofloxacin or Cipro, face a 2.4 times greater risk of developing aortic and mitral regurgitation, where the blood backflows into the heart, compared to patients who take Amoxicillin, a different type of antibiotic.”

The greatest risk is within 30 days of use, they added.

The heart has four valves: the mitral valve allows blood to flow from the top left chamber of the heart to the bottom left chamber. The aortic valve opens to release blood from the heart into the aorta, which then carries blood to the rest of the body.

What is Cipro

Ciprofloxacin belongs to a group of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolone. Fluoroquinolones are broad-spectrum antibiotics that treat a large number of infections, starting from skin infections, traveller’s diarrhoea, and pneumonia to recurrent urinary tract infections. Ciprofloxacin stops the multiplication of bacteria by a complex DNA replication process, to bring the infection under control. It is especially valued for its effect on stubborn bacterial infections.

To be fair, most medicines, especially antibiotics, have some side-effects. Doctors typically weigh these against the benefits of the drug before prescribing. In India, as in many other developing countries, the biggest risk arises from self-medication.

What has happened in this study is that researchers have compared two drugs that are already in circulation. They have found Amoxicillin less harmful to heart health. However, this does not mean that Amoxicillin is absolutely safe: overuse of this penicillin-based drug is, in fact, one of the reasons for growing antibiotic resistance in India and the world.

Growing resistance

When prescribed by a doctor, Ciprofloxacin is typically taken once a day. Doctors also assess a patient’s cardiac function before putting them on Ciprofloxacin or any fluoroquinolone regime.

The trouble arises when we pop antibiotics even for infections like the common cold - a viral infection that can become worse by treating for bacteria.

The irrational use of antibiotics has led us to an era of drug resistance - pathogens that evolve to resist the effects of the medicine usually become more virulent. If we continue to use antibiotics in the way that we are right now, the day is not far when the medicines we have will fail to treat even ordinary infections.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more about the health effects of Ciprofloxacin, please visit Cipro: Benefits and Side Effects.

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