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Heartburn Med Taken with Antibiotic May Cause Irregular Heartbeat

Dec 9, 2016

Many people suffering from heartburn and similar conditions take acid-reducing drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). According to a new study, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center and the Data Science Institute at Columbia University found that the popular PPI heartburn drug, Prevacid (lansoprazole), when taken together with an antibiotic, ceftriaxone, could increase the risk for a dangerous condition known as long QT syndrome. Long QT syndrome is a heart rhythm condition that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. In some cases, the heart can beat erratically for so long that it may cause sudden death.

Certain medications might cause long QT syndrome, but it is treatable. In some cases, treatment for long QT syndrome involves surgery or an implantable device. Certain medications known to cause prolonged QT intervals that could trigger long QT syndrome are to be avoided, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Ceftriaxone (brand name Rocephin), is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections and belongs to a class of drugs known as cephalosporin antibiotics. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

Personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are actively reviewing potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have been injured by the effects of some pharmaceuticals.

Studies Involving PPIs and Ceftriaxone

Study authors discovered that people taking PPIs (such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium) and the antibiotic ceftriaxone together were 1.4 times more likely to suffer from long QT interval. When people took the drugs alone, they did not experience an increased risk of QT syndrome.

Researchers examined a government database of reported side effects and found eight pairs of drugs that contributed to a higher risk of the QT syndrome. Then, the scientists tested the most widely used pair: lansoprazole and ceftriaxone, on individual heart cells in a laboratory and found the combination could alter the heart's normal electrical activity in some individuals. The main goal of the study was to use data to improve the search for drug interactions. Authors published their findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Nicholas Tatonetti, the study's senior author and assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Columbia University Medical Center and a member of Columbia's Data Science Institute, discussed the findings in a Columbia University Medical Center news release. "What's most surprising is that you can go from a database of billions of data points to making a prediction that two molecules together can change the functions of a protein in a single heart cell," Tatonetti said. "It means these algorithms are really useful in medical research." However, other doctors urged caution when interpreting the findings.

Studies Involving PPIs and Ceftriaxone

Dr. Dan Roden of Vanderbilt University Medical Center said the data was not sufficiently conclusive for doctors to advise patients on whether to take or not take the drugs together. Tal Lorberbaum, the study's lead author and a graduate student at Columbia, expressed interest in a clinical trial. "Three independent lines of evidence show us that this is a signal worth paying attention to," he said in a news release. "We hope that a clinical trial will confirm that this is an actionable discovery."

A number of Nexium lawsuits are currently pending before U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fisher in California. In addition, attorneys across the U.S. are investigating PPI claims. The serious side effects led to a number of patients filing lawsuits against the makers of drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.

Recent studies linked the acid-lowering PPI drugs to a number of serious side effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011 and 2012, warned that PPIs can cause low magnesium levels, bone fractures, and bacteria-induced diarrhea.

In 2015, a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal linked PPIs to a "more than twofold increase" in acute kidney injury that necessitated hospitalization. In addition, in 2016, a study in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Internal Medicine linked the drugs to 20 to 50 percent higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Healthy kidneys are crucial to the human body. These two bean-shaped internal organs clean the blood by filtering waste and extra water which leaves the body through urine. They also stabilize bodily levels of electrolytes which are minerals that impact fluid levels, blood acidity, muscle operations and other processes. In addition, the kidneys generate hormones that serve important functions such as keeping the bones strong.

Legal Information and Advice for Consumers

If you or someone you know suffered adverse side effects involving the use of medications, you may have valuable legal rights. The attorneys at Parker Waichman offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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