The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently published studies showing a link between fluoroquinolone use and aortic injuries. These injuries include aneurysms, or bulges, and dissections, or tears.
The aorta is the largest blood vessel, circulating blood to all areas of the body. Aneurysms typically occur near the areas of the heart and abdomen. If they rupture, the consequences can be devastating. Internal bleeding can lead to heart attack, stroke and death.
The JAMA study, published in November 2015, was conducted by Taiwanese researchers who analyzed the health records of approximately 1,500 people who had suffered aneurysms or dissections. According to the researchers, patients who had taken a fluoroquinolone within 60 days were twice as likely to experience an aortic injury. In the BMJ study, Canadian researchers studied 18,000 patients who had an aortic aneurysm. Those researchers found that patients on fluoroquinolones were three times as likely to suffer an aortic dissection.
Aortic aneurysms are known as the “silent killers” because many people have no idea they have one until it bursts. When that happens, the results are fatal 50 percent of the time. Aneurysms can be treated with blood pressure medication to help relax blood vessels and reduce the chance of a rupture. However, many patients have to undergo an extensive surgical procedure. This typically entails removing the weakened section of the aorta and replacing it with a graft.