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Use of Z-packs Linked to Double the Risk of Death from Heart Attack

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Antibiotics can seem so harmless when it comes to side effects, but more research shows that we should be more careful about how much and what kinds we're putting in our bodies. Last year I wrote about the overuse of antibiotic injections in livestock used for slaughter, which has led to devastating consequences for the animals, farmers and consumers. I also wrote about how the overuse of antibiotics can lead to the development of Type II Diabetes in humans.

A recent study conducted at Vanderbilt University lends more support to the notion that our antibiotic overuse is leading to some pretty big problems. That study found that individuals who took azithromycin or "Z-pack" as it's more popularly known, had double the risk of death from cardiovascular problems than individuals who took other types of antibiotics. Z-pack is popular because it's more convenient since patients take it for five days rather than ten with other antibiotics. It is commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections and doctors wrote 55.3 million prescriptions for it in the U.S. last year.

Dr. John G. Bartlett, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says that it is vital that we begin to curb our overuse of antibiotics, especially when Z-pack is given for things that it cannot cure like viral infections or colds. Dr. Bartlett also says that in many of the situations where Z-pack is prescribed, it would be better for patients to not take any antibiotic and simply ride out their illness. However, the lead author of the study, Dr. Wayne Ray, a professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University, says that patients taking Z-pack shouldn't think they are at risk simply because they are taking the drug. Instead, he emphasizes that it is important for patients to talk to their doctors about the risk and benefits of doing so.