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Antibiotic Can Trigger Abnormal Heart Rhythm

Q. I was given erythromycin for an infection and immediately started having heart palpitations and shortness of breath. My doctor didn’t believe that the drug could have caused the problem, so he gave me something generic but still in the same family of erythromycin. I had the same reaction. A couple of years ago I found something on the AMA website stating that erythromycin had been responsible for several cardiac deaths!

A. You may be more susceptible than average to heart rhythm disturbances caused by certain medications. People with “long QT intervals” may react to erythromycin and many other drugs in a dangerous way. The long QT interval shows up on an electrocardiogram, so you may need to be tested. There are lists of drugs that might be dangerous if you do have long QT interval at www.qtdrugs.org.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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