Health roundup: Antibiotic may raise risk of sudden death

  • Updated: May 19, 2012 - 5:38 PM

ANTIOBIOTIC MAY RAISE RISK OF DEATH

A new study finds that a widely used antibiotic, azithromycin, may increase the likelihood of sudden death in adults, especially those who have heart disease or are at high risk for it.

The increased odds of death are small, but significant enough that the authors of the study say doctors should consider prescribing a different drug, like amoxicillin, for high-risk patients. People at high risk include those with heart failure, diabetes or a previous heart attack, and those who have undergone bypass surgery or have had stents implanted. In such patients, the drug may cause abnormal heart rhythms that can be fatal. But it's unknown why.

The concerns do not apply to children, because most have very little risk of heart disease, said lead author Wayne A. Ray, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

KIDS' LEAD POISONING STANDARD LOWERED

The standard for what constitutes lead poisoning in children has been sharply lowered for the first time in 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. But the significance remained unclear, because the CDC also noted it lacked funds to pay for more testing or locate and decontaminate poisoned sites. The new standard defines poisoning as 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood; the old standard was 10 micrograms for children younger than 6. High lead levels in children can cause coma while smaller amounts can lead to lower IQs, the CDC said.

HDL MAY NOT CUT HEART DISEASE RISK

The name sounds encouraging: HDL, the good cholesterol. The more of it in your blood, the lower your risk of heart disease. Or so the theory went.

Now, a study that makes use of powerful databases of genetic data has found that raising HDL levels may not make any difference to heart disease risk. People who inherit genes that give them naturally higher HDL levels have no less heart disease than those who inherit genes that give them lower levels, said the study published online in the Lancet. If HDL were protective, those with genes causing higher levels should have had less heart disease.

The study's researchers, led by Dr. Sekar Kathiresan of Massachusetts General Hospital, emphasize that they are not questioning that higher HDL levels are associated with lower heart disease risk. But the relationship may not be causative; HDL itself may not be directly reducing risk.

 

CDC: PEDICURE 'DOCTOR FISH' MAY SICKEN PEOPLE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that "doctor fish" -- which eat dead skin in a pedicure trend going back to 2008 -- may carry harmful bacteria. The CDC published a report that said harmful bacteria from the Garra fuga included aeromonas, which can cause wound infections and gastrointestinal problems, and streptococcus agalactiae and mycobacteria, which can cause skin infections. And these bacteria, the study said, often were resistant to multiple drugs and difficult to kill.

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