Common drugs linked to sudden cardiac death13 years, 11 months ago
Posted on Jun 01, 2005, 10 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Drugs prescribed for everyday ailments could be causing thousands of sudden heart attack deaths each year, reported seven newspapers . The reports were based on a large observational study investigating the use of medications, known to affect heart rhythm, by people who suffered a sudden cardiac death.
Seven newspapers (1-7) reported that seven common drugs, including antibiotics and medications for mental illness and stomach problems could be causing up to 15,000 sudden deaths from heart attacks each year in Europe and the US. Most newspapers reported that a Dutch study found that users of the drugs were nearly three times more likely to suffer a sudden cardiac death.
The articles are based on the findings of a large, well-conducted case-control study from the Netherlands (8). This compared 775 cases of sudden cardiac death with 6,297 matched controls, with respect to the use of seven drugs (two antibiotics, two stomach and three antipsychotic medications). This found a significantly increased risk of sudden cardiac death for current users (by three times), particularly those with less than 90 days use (by four times) compared with non-users.
Most newspapers reported the research fairly accurately but three (1,6,7) incorrectly stated that the drugs were responsible for 320 of the 775 sudden cardiac deaths in the study, when the authors report that they may be linked to 320 cases per year in the Netherlands, based on the rate of sudden cardiac death in the study. They all reported that the researchers state that patients taking these drugs should not stop taking them without consulting their GP.
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