Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Linked to Aortic Aneurism & Aortic Dissection: JAMA Study
A November 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Levaquin may cause the aorta, the main artery in the human body, to become enlarged. If the aorta ruptures, it could cause fatal internal bleeding if surgery is not performed immediately.
For the study, researchers at National Taiwan University’s Department of Emergency Medicine compared 1,477 case-patients against a control group of 147,700, with data from the nation’s health insurance database from Jan. 2000-Dec. 2011. All case-patients were hospitalized for aortic aneurysm or dissection.
The researchers determined that Levaquin use increased the risk of aortic aneurysm by more than double. Past use increased the risk by nearly 50%.
“Use of Levaquin was associated with an increased risk of aortic aneurysm and dissection,” the study’s authors concluded. “While these were rare events, physicians should be aware of this possible drug safety risk associated with fluoroquinolone therapy.”
“After propensity score adjustment, current use of fluoroquinolones was found to be associated with increased risk for aortic aneurysm or dissection (rate ratio [RR], 2.43; 95% CI, 1.83-3.22), as was past use, although this risk was attenuated (RR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.18-1.86),” the researchers said. “Sensitivity analysis focusing on aortic aneurysm and dissection requiring surgery also demonstrated an increased risk associated with current fluoroquinolone use, but the increase was not statistically significant (propensity score-adjusted RR, 2.15; 95% CI, 0.97-4.60).”
“While these were rare events, physicians should be aware of this possible drug safety risk associated with fluoroquinolone therapy,” they concluded.
Do I Qualify For a Levaquin Lawsuit?
Our lawyers are currently accepting cases for patients who took Levaquin and were subsequently diagnosed with or became the victim of an aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection.
Below, we will explain more about the two injuries/side effects related to Levaquin use.
What is an Aortic Aneurysm?
An aortic aneurysm occurs when a balloon-like bulge develops in the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart through the chest and torso, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The aneurysm may cause the aorta to burst completely, resulting in severe internal bleeding. This is called a rupture and is the leading cause of death from an aortic aneurysm.
There are 2 main types of aortic aneurysm, thoracic aneurysm, and abdominal aortic aneurysm:
Thoracic Aneurysm – occurs in the chest, and is typically caused by high blood pressure or sudden injury. In some cases, people with inherited connective disorders, such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, develop thoracic aneurysms. Signs and symptoms of the condition include:
- Sharp, sudden pain in the chest or upper back
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – occurs below the chest, and is usually the result of atherosclerosis (hardened arteries). This type of aneurysm may also be caused by infections or injuries. Many cases of abdominal aortic aneurysm are asymptomatic; however, when symptoms do present, they may include:
- Throbbing or deep pain in the back or side
- Pain in the buttocks, groin, or legs
Aortic Aneurysm Symptoms
Aortic aneurysms can occur in the part of the aorta that passes through the middle to the low abdomen, or along the portion that passes through the chest cavity (thoracic aortic aneurysm). In many cases, aortic aneurysms cause no symptoms at all. However, when they do present, symptoms may include:
- Tearing pain in the chest, abdomen, and/or middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
- Shortness of breath
- Cough (due to pressure on the lungs and airways)
- Difficulty swallowing (caused by pressure on the esophagus)
If an aneurysm ruptures, it can cause:
- Loss of consciousness
- Heart attack
Aortic Aneurysm Treatment
When an aortic aneurysm is large enough to cause symptoms, the weakened section of the vessel can be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial graft. If the aneurysm is near the aortic valve, valve replacement may also be required.
Aneurysm repair surgery is complicated and requires experienced surgical staff. The repair requires open-chest or abdominal surgery, general anesthesia, and a hospital stay of at least 5 days. If you had surgery to repair an aneurysm, you should do your best to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Advanced techniques for repairing abdominal and thoracic aneurysms involve placing a graft without surgery and may benefit high-risk patients.
What is an Aortic Dissection?
An aortic dissection occurs when the inner layer of the aorta tears, according to the Mayo Clinic. This forces blood to surge through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate (dissect). This can lead to the formation of a new channel, called a false lumen, between the 2 layers. This channel extends from the tear to the lowest part of the aorta, preventing blood from flowing properly to the rest of the body. If the false lumen ruptures through the outside aortic wall, aortic dissection can be fatal.
There are 2 main types of aortic dissection, Type A and Type B:
Type A Aortic Dissection – occurs in the ascending aorta, the curved part of the aorta that extends upward from the heart. Although Type A Dissection may be asymptomatic, it is often accompanied by symptoms including shortness of breath and a sudden, severe, sharp pain that feels like tearing in the chest and upper back. Type A is the most dangerous form of aortic dissection because it’s more likely to cause the aorta to rupture, leading to a potentially fatal heart condition. This condition requires immediate surgical intervention.
Type B Aortic Dissection – a life-threatening condition that originates in the descending aorta, which extends from the arch at the top of the ascending aorta in the chest to the bottom section of the aorta (abdominal aorta). Symptoms of Type B Aortic Dissection may include high blood pressure and severe, sharp back pain that feels like it is extending into the chest or abdomen. In some cases, Type B Dissections can reduce or block blood flow to the kidneys or intestines, which requires surgery. This type of dissection is usually treated with a combination of prescription medications and monitoring by a doctor.
Aortic Dissection Symptoms
Symptoms of an aortic dissection may be similar to those of other heart problems, such as a heart attack, and include:
- Sudden severe chest or upper back pain that radiates to the neck or down the back
- Sudden severe abdominal pain
- Loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden difficulty speaking, loss of vision, weakness, or paralysis on 1 side of the body
- Weak pulse in 1 arm or thigh
- Leg pain
- Difficulty walking
- Leg paralysis
Aortic Dissection Treatment
Type A Aortic Dissection – Typically requires immediate surgery to repair or replace the first segment of the ascending aorta where the tear started. Depending on the extent of the aorta involved, a durable repair may require open surgery where the aorta is replaced with a graft that is sewn in place of the dissected aorta.
Alternatively, the surgeon may use a stent-graft to repair the aorta. Stent grafts are delivered “endovascularly,” which means they are placed over a wire through a small incision in the groin and then delivered into the aorta and deployed by releasing the stents like a spring. The risk of dying from this urgent surgery is about 10% to 20%, depending on the condition of the patient at the time of arrival.
Type B Aortic Dissection – This type of tear may not require immediate surgery; however, intensive medical therapy for blood pressure control is needed. Patients with a Type B Aortic Dissection are first managed using intravenous blood pressure medications and close monitoring by a physician. The need for surgical intervention may then be delayed for months or even years, depending on the severity of the dissection. In patients where the downstream tear cuts off blood flow to the vital organs (kidneys, intestines, legs, or spinal cord), immediate surgery is required to save their lives.
If you are a Levaquin user who is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. However, you should never switch or stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first.
What is Levaquin?
Levaquin belongs to a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones (FLQs) that are used to treat a wide variety of infections. These drugs work by preventing bacteria from reproducing and killing the bacteria that cause infections.
Manufactured by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson company), Levaquin is prescribed to treat bacterial and skin infections, pneumonia, and the bubonic plague. Levaquin was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 and became available as a generic in 2011. Each year, more than 6 million prescriptions are written for oral Levaquin, and over 1 million patients are administered the drug intravenously in a hospital.
Do I Have a Levaquin Lawsuit?
The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Levaquin Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new Levaquin lawsuits in all 50 states.
Again, if you were injured by Levaquin side effects, you should contact our law firm using the contact form below or by dialing (866) 588-0600. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Levaquin lawsuit and we can help.