Antibiotic Use Linked To Greater Risk Of Heart Attack & Stroke In Women

Antibiotics women

Antibiotics women

Taking antibiotics for long periods after the age of 40 may be linked to increased risk of heart attack or stroke in older women, according to the results of a study published yesterday in the European Heart Journal.

As they found in their study online in European Heart Journal, a 28% increased risk of CV events such as myocardial infarction and stroke was also noted among women ages 40-59 with more than 2 months of antibiotic use (P trend = 0.003), while no increased risk was noted among younger adults ages 20-39, according to the analysis of data from almost 36,500 women in the Nurses' Health Study.

The researchers found that the women who used antibiotics for two months or longer in late adulthood were 32 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared with those who did not use antibiotics. Using antibiotics for more than two months may increase risk of heart disease by destroying good bacteria in the gut.

The study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center, and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation. The percentage who said they were not meeting American Heart Association-recommended activity guidelines rose from 58% in 2006 to 61% in 2015. "As these women grew older they were more likely to need more antibiotics, and sometimes for longer periods of time, which suggests a cumulative effect may be the reason for the stronger link in older age between antibiotic use and cardiovascular disease". Investigators lacked information on what type of antibiotics were used. A total of 1056 participants developed CVD during the study. In that questionnaire and subsequent ones over the next 8 years, the women were asked to indicate the total time using antibiotics during young (age 20 to 39), middle (age 40 to 59), and late (age 60 and older) adulthood.

Among women in the greatest risk group taking antibiotics for at least two months, six per 1,000 would be likely to experience damage to their hearts or arteries.

It was also discovered that long periods of antibiotic use in middle adulthood was "also related to higher risk of CVD" (cardiovascular disease).

The absolute risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke remained relatively small, the scientists pointed out.

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Adjustments were made to take into account other contributing factors that may influence a woman's susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and stroke, including age, race, sex, diet, and lifestyle, as well as the reasons for their antibiotic use, obesity level, and whether they were using medication for other conditions or diseases.

The risk increase reduced with age, falling to 28% for middle-aged women.

The most common reason the women used antibiotics was to treat respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, acne or rosacea, chronic bronchitis, or dental problems, among others. Information on classes of antibiotic or doses were not provided.

Corresponding author Lu Qi, PhD, of Tulane University in New Orleans, explained that "antibiotic use is the most critical factor in altering the balance of microorganisms in the gut". "This is a major strength of the study", Qi said.

"This is an observational study and so it can not show that antibiotics cause heart disease and stroke, only that there is a link between them", Qi said in a journal news release. He said the next step is to look more closely at how antibiotics impact the gut microbiome so they can determine whether antibiotics are responsible for the increased risk.

"Evidence has shown that effects of a single course of antibiotics on the specific microbial populations can persist for years". "It's just a hypothesis", he said.

Investigators excluded 33,147 women for missing data on antibiotic usage, 17,659 were excluded due to prior history of CVD, 2469 were excluded because there was no available data on demographic factors, 747 women were excluded because they only returned the 2004 questionnaire, and 422 were excluded because they were under the age of 60.

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