aortic aneurysm, fluoroquinolone antibiotics

For decades, doctors have prescribed fluoroquinolone antibiotics with abandon. They were perceived as highly effective and safe medications against a wide variety of bacterial infections. Tens of millions of prescriptions have been written for ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin) moxifloxacin (Avelox) and norfloxacin (Noroxin), to name just a few FQs or quinolones for short. They are used for sinus, lung and urinary tract infections.

Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics & Side Effects:

It took a long time for the FDA to discover some of the serious complications associated with flouroquinolone antibiotics. They include:

tendon problems, tendinitis, tendon rupture (potentially disabling); arthritis, muscle pain, weakness; headache, dizziness, anxiety, irritability, agitation, restlessness, confusion, insomnia; hallucinations, psychosis, seizures; retinal detachment; depression, suicidal thoughts or actions; irregular heart rhythms, QT prolongation; kidney or liver damage; blood disorders; digestive distress, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting; super-infections, including C. diff diarrhea; allergic reactions, skin rash and anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction requiring immediate medical attention!).

Add Aortic Aneurysm:

OK, we know your eyes glazed over after the first few side effects. It is impossible to contemplate so many serious drug complications. But we have a relatively new one you need to know about. We suspect most health professionals are unaware of this potentially fatal adverse reaction linked to flouroquinolone antibiotics. Here is a report from a reader:

Q. My dad died five years ago from a ruptured aortic aneurysm. It was just six weeks after being given IV Levaquin for pneumonia–which was misdiagnosed.

At the time, we didn’t connect Levaquin with any problems other than hallucinations. However, four years after his death, researchers reported that fluoroquinolones cause aortic aneurysms and dissections.

There must be others who died from this, and their families will never know that it was from a drug they were given. It saddens me that these drugs are still so commonly used, even after the FDA warned about serious side effects of these antibiotics.

A. A recent Swedish study found that fluoroquinolone (FQ) antibiotics like ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or levofloxacin (Levaquin) are associated with an increased risk of aortic aneurysm (BMJ, March 8, 2018).  In this condition the large artery leaving the heart (aorta) develops a weak area that bulges and may burst. This can be fatal.

Researchers have previously linked FQ use with aortic aneurysm (JAMA Internal Medicine, Nov. 2015).  Despite this, the FDA determined in 2017 that the agency did not see evidence of an association between fluoroquinolones and “bulges or tears in the aorta” (FDA Drug Safety Communication, 7-26-2017).  Perhaps the new study will lead the FDA to reconsider this potentially deadly complication.

The FDA does warn about:

“disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves and central nervous system.”

The agency suggests that FQs be reserved for patients who have no other treatment options.

The People’s Pharmacy Perspective:

Antibiotics save lives. There are times when they are absolutely essential. The trouble is that many flouroquinolone antibiotics have been prescribed promiscuously. They should be reserved for last resort situations.

Share your own experience with FQs below in the comment section.

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  1. Cathy
    High Point, NC

    Thanks for this article! Eye opening! Like others, I’ve taken a couple of these over the years. A few years back, I was having more URIs than normal so took Cipro (when ur sick & miserable, u take what ur told & u trust). At that time, I was noticing unusual aches & pains, etc. I did quite a bit of research, read the rx pamphlet & discovered about the side effects from this class of drugs. Needless to say, I take it no more & feel I have long term side effects from the use of the drug that have affected the quality of my life, cost me lots of money & time & sadness.

    Shockingly, I just found out I have an aortic aneurysm (after a lung CT caused from reactions I was having to Clonidine for high bp – it was awful). I’m only 60 & feel in so many ways I’ve been robbed. I can’t blame my doctors. I have to MAKE myself be positive. I’m at risk now of losing the tiny & very ltd health insurance I have – b/c of what I just discovered is a side effect of another line of drugs – PPIs (or even Cipro). Seems like last year the universe decided it was to be my year of health events & discovery. My thoughts, for what it’s worth……

  2. Tina Renee

    On 8/7/2017 I was given yet again another prescription for an antibiotic. On this date it was a generic form of Levofloxacin. I took the medication, and the same evening experienced chest pain, rapid heatbeats, sweating and even got sick to my stomach. I was told by the pharmacy to stop the medication and call my doctor in the morning. The next day I called and was told to continue taking the medication as I had been suffering from a cough and had sinus infection. (That very week I was given an x-ray which came back normal. )

    Forward to 4/13/2018 I went back to the doctor, and she did another x-ray, as I was still having problems with chest pains, shortness of breath. This time she found an aortic aneurysm. I have searched for counsel since learning that the antibiotic can cause not only the aneurysm, but neuropathy and have been unable to find such since it was a generic form of Levaquin I took the last time.

    This drug has ruined my life and my future as I know it. It should be taken off the shelf, as the bad side effects out-weigh the good effects, at least to me and my family.

  3. Beck

    My granddaughter was diagnosed with pneumonia a few weeks ago and was given Levaquin. What is the alternative when you have a bacterial infection such as pneumonia? Had no idea about the dangers of Cipro and Levaquin.

  4. Bill
    katy, TX

    Are there any safe antibiotics?

  5. Sandra J.

    I have neuropathy in my feet and could not figure how I got it. Now I believe it was from cipro. You’re right that back in the 90s it was prescribed like candy. Now I’m stuck with neuropathy.

  6. Gene

    Many of the posts here mention that no (or little) adverse reaction to Cipro (and other) antibiotics is mentioned by the doctors or the FDA. Likewise is the lack of information on the terrible and permanent side effects of Statins. My life has been ruined by Statins, and the doctors still tell me that they are the best thing since sliced bread. I have had almost all the side effects and can get no help. Please keep up the good work, and keep the information coming on the side effects of Statins and Antibiotics. After all, 20 years ago the number one killer was heart disease, and after Statins it still is. Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

  7. Paul

    First ever Levaquin prescription April 16, 2018, then life-threatening (and almost ending) Aortic dissection July 7, 2018.

  8. cc

    Just want to add that the reason these drugs continue to be prescribed like candy is that we have a faulty FDA post surveillance monitoring that is purely voluntary by physicians and patients. These warnings are a joke. We need severe consequences for physicians who continue to prescribe these drugs inappropriately. The mechanism of harm is poorly understood despite hard data validating such. It takes people sometimes years to get accurate diagnosis for peripheral neuropathy, tendon rupture, neuropsychiatric symptoms and fatigue. That is another medical system failure. Their excuse is that they save lives. No one ever talks about the lives saved, even if appropriately prescribed and the patients are so ill they wish they were dead. This is a very complex problem, just like opioids and will end in genocide if there is no wake up call. The FDA put out these warnings because of victims uniting, testifying to the FDA and fighting to their last breath. I, as a
    healthy person before cipro, know first hand such devastation and further harm from a broken medical system. My story is far from unique.

  9. Bev

    What are other alternatives than these do we have to choose from? I’ve taken Cipro and levaquin but to my knowledge haven’t had side affects and now feel very lucky. Why does it happen to some but not all who take it? I’ve never been on long term meds of any kind other than an antibiotic or cure myself. Can it be that synthetics interacts with other synthetics that aren’t compatible? What are other alternatives than these?

  10. Catherine N. P.

    How many of these patients also had MRIs to help diangose their medical issues and became additionally harmed?! Check I am posioned via gadolinium from 9 mris with it and it is STILL inside me some 8.5 years later…IN SUCH HIGH LEVELS causing FIBROSIS! along with vaccine ingredients metals such as aluminum, lead and mercury STILL inisde me and barium from swallow studies! get checked to see how much might STILL be ionside your bodies! three types of whcih are yanked from market over in EUROPE but nowhere else…

  11. Fay
    North Carolina

    A relative just went through a surgery to place a stent in an artery in the brain because of a bulging artery wall which could lead to an aneurysm. Could it be that the antibiotic that she took prompted the issue? I suspect aneurysms could turn up other places besides the aorta.

  12. Cari

    After taking several rounds of Cipro and Levaquin for various reasons, including, but not limited to, bladder infections and sinus infections, I felt a tendon snap in my foot. I lost control of my ability to stand and fell onto the pavement. As a result, I broke my foot. Also, I have late onset scoliosis, and I think all of this is from weak tendons and ligaments from taking that nasty medication. Too bad we didn’t know about what these meds can do prior to taking them. It’s hard to trust pharmaceuticals for this and other meds that have various terrible side-effects.

  13. Rick
    Lewiston, ME

    Thanks for the TIMELY update. I’m vert susceptible to Pneumonia and had x-rays on the 19th, then this arrived. On the 22nd, my MD advised the x-ray showed Pneumonia (expected) and tried to give me Levaquin. NOPE!!! Thanks for your work!!!

  14. Katy

    I took levaquin numerous times for UTI’s and developed a bursitis like hip problem that I have yet to conquer. I am 99% sure it is from that medicine. I am hoping I don’t have any aortic issues from it- hoping someone knows how long it stays in your body.

  15. Casey B

    NEVER TAKE A SYNTHETIC “Antibiotic” Containing Fluoroquinolone (NOT EVEN ONCE) Please donʻt let this suffering be in vain I would not wish this on anyone.

    I feel so alone I have no hope, no desires, everything has been taken from me by this poison. I took 7 doses of cipro a few days ago & the effects are killing me. My vision is blurry, i have pressurized headaches in my forehead, all of my bones are popping and hurting ALL OF THEM, I can hardly walk, talk or type. Iʻve never wanted to die so bad in all of my life.

    I have no balance anymore, I canʻt lay down without pain, I canʻt stand without pain, I canʻt sit without pain, I can no longer hold my children or drive. And today I had the worst experience of my entire life, I got up from the bed Iʻve been stuck in to take an epsom salt bath because the pain in my back while laying was unbearable.

    I made it down the first step and a horrible feeling came over me like i was dying all of a sudden I had to lay down and my bones hurt more and more and were spasming and straining, I was shaking and threw up, my heart and breathing was dramatic I was sure I was going to die.

    I sat their on those steps for several hours in a fetal position hoping it would stop. When the nausea and spasms finally settled I crawled back onto the floor and layed down for a few more hours, this was the scariest experience of my life.

    Before taking these pills I had none of these problems. I look forward to life in a wheelchair and I hope the POS company producing this drug enjoys the $20 I paid to poison myself.

    • David
      West Palm Beach, Fl

      To Casey B. and everybody else. I got Cipro poisoned in the mid 1990s and it took a few years to figure out what was happening to me. If you have all or any of these pain symptoms, note that you need to just stay put and do nothing. Taking steroids and “PHYSICAL THERAPY” are contra indicated. Do as little movement as possible. For me, I get what I call a “hit” whenever I eat meat or poultry that has been fed a fluoroquinolone antibiotic and my hits now last three to four weeks and then I am sort of OK again. I had two hits in 2017 and have already had one now in 2018. Helping two Gulf War vets get information about their Gulf War illnesses (they all took Cipro), I updated my information about Cipro and discovered that there is now a test for FQ poisoning and discovered with new research information, that FQs kill your mitochondria and change your DNA. Now I have to add this new information about aorta aneurysm problems.
      The prognosis is not good, but going organic and eating grass fed beef has helped me stay somewhat active and able to help others.

  16. DJ

    I was diagnosed with an aeortal aneurysm last fall. Now I’m wondering if the Leviquin I was prescribed two years ago is what led to this aneurysm. No previous family history and I’m a 40 year old female.

  17. Lara

    These are drugs used against the plague or anthrax, which affect the body like a chemotherapy and can cause horrific, potentially irreversible damages. They should only be considered as last resort medication for severe life-or-death infections, and only after informed consent of the patient. But they get prescribed for trivial infections, or even just prophylactically, also in ear-drops or eye-drops, also to children…

    Last week, there was a Public Hearing on fluoroquinolones and quinolones at the EMA / European Medical Agency in London. The video of the hearing can be watched on YouTube, and the EMA’s written summary of the hearing is available on the EMA website.

    Also, see the FDA warnings for fluoroquinolones. Do your own research and look for “adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones”. Get well-informed about these drugs … in your own best interest – and for the sake of your loved ones. The cases of damaged health are far from being “rare”. Join a support group if you have taken/ been given these drugs in the past.

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