Broad spectrum antibiotics, known as fluoroquinolones, have been linked to serious side effects including retinal detachment, aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm. Drugs in this class include Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin). Retinal detachment is a medical emergency that can lead to permanent vision loss. Aortic dissention and aneurysm can be fatal.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics play an important role in treating some serious bacterial infections, but they are often prescribed in cases where safer antibiotics would be more appropriate or when antibiotics are not appropriate at all. Examples of fluoroquinolone antibiotics include:
- Cipro (ciprofloxacin)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin)
- Floxin (ofloxacin)
- Avelox (moxifloxacin)
- Factive (gemifloxacin)
- Noroxin (norfloxacin)
Aortic Dissection and Aneurysm
A recent study found that fluoroquinolone users experienced a two-fold increase in risk of aortic dissection and aortic aneurysm within 60 days of exposure. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Both conditions can be fatal, and both can cause stroke and permanent injuries and disabilities.
In Canada, fluoroquinolones will now carry a warning about the risk of retinal detachment. This comes four years after researchers at the University of British Columbia reported that fluoroquinolone users have a five-fold increased risk of being diagnosed with retinal detachment.
Other Side Effects
Fluoroquinolones are known to cause other serious side effects including tendon rupture and permanent nerve damage.