The antibiotic Avelox increase the risk of an aortic aneurysms, according to the FDA. Aneurysms may have no symptoms until they burst open and cause severe internal bleeding and death.
FDA Warning Links Avelox and Aortic Aneurysms
In December 2018, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication to warn that Avelox can increase the risk of aortic aneurysms (also called “aortic dissection”). While rare, patients with high blood pressure are more likely to develop this side effect, according to the FDA.
What is the Problem?
Avelox and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics can damage collagen in connective tissue all over the body, which is why they are associated with tendon ruptures and heart problems. Many studies have found that Avelox may also damage connective tissue in the wall of the aorta.
Avelox and Aortic Aneurysms
The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. It carries blood under very high pressure. When Avelox causes a weak spot to develop in the wall of the aorta, the aorta can balloon outward until it suddenly rips open, causing massive internal bleeding. This is called an aortic aneurysm.
What is an Aneurysm?
An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge or “ballooning” in an artery due to a weak spot in the wall of the blood vessel. As blood flows through the aorta, the weak area bulges like a balloon and can burst if it gets too big.
When the aneurysm ruptures, it causes severe internal bleeding that can rapidly cause death. About 15,000 people in the United States die from aortic aneurysms every year. High blood pressure increases the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms.
What are Aortic Aneurysms?
The aorta is a major artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. It originates in the left ventricle of the heart and extends down to the abdomen. An aortic aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in the lower part of the aorta near the stomach area.
Warning Signs & Symptoms
Aneurysms are often called the “silent killer” because there are usually no obvious symptoms until it bursts. When symptoms do appear, they may include:
- Abdominal pain (may be constant or come and go)
- Lower back pain that may radiate to groin, buttocks, or legs
- Feeling a “heartbeat” or pulse in the abdomen
Aneurysms that rupture will cause severe pain, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and light-headedness. Symptoms of an abdominal aneurysm may include:
- Severe back or abdominal pain that begins suddenly
- Dry mouth or skin and excessive thirst
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shock – low blood pressure, dizziness, sweating, rapid heartbeat
Studies Link Antibiotics and Aortic Aneurysms
In November 2015, the British Medical Journal published a study linking fluoroquinolone antibiotics with a tripled increased risk of aortic aneurysms.
In October 2015, a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine found that current users of fluoroquinolone antibiotics were 2.4-times more likely to develop aortic aneurysms within 60 days. Past users had a 50% higher risk.