Health In Focus
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics in women is linked to a higher risk of death from heart disease.
  • The risk of death from heart disease was found to be more in women taking antibiotics during late adulthood compared to middle adulthood.
  • Taking antibiotics for two or more months was associated with a 58% higher risk of cardiovascular death.

Long-term use of antibiotics, especially during late adulthood was linked to higher risk of death from heart disease and other causes among women, suggests preliminary study data presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018.

Previous studies have indicated that usage of antibiotics for an extended period of time is associated with long-lasting changes to micro-organisms that live in the human gut.
High Usage of Antibiotics may Increase the Risk of Death in Women

"Gut microbiota alterations have been associated with a variety of life-threatening disorders, such as cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer," said author Lu Qi, M.D., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans. "Antibiotic exposure affects balance and composition of the gut microbiome, even after one stops taking antibiotics; so, it is important to better understand how taking antibiotics might impact risks for chronic diseases and death."

Study overview

The study was conducted in collaboration between Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 37,510 women, aged 60 years and older were involved in the study. Each of them reported their antibiotic usage and all were free of heart disease and cancer at the start of the study. The women were classified based on how long they had used antibiotics. They were divided into 3 groups: Those who did not use antibiotics at all, those who used antibiotics for less than 15 days, those who used antibiotics anywhere from 15 days to less than two months and those who used antibiotics for two or more months. The study population was followed for a period from 2004 until June 2012.

Study findings

  • Women who took antibiotics for two months or longer during their late adulthood were 27% more likely to die from all causes when compared to women who did not take antibiotics.
  • Taking antibiotics for two or more months was associated with a 58% higher risk of cardiovascular death.
  • The association between long-term antibiotic use and increased risk of death was also evident in women who took antibiotics during their middle adulthood, from ages 40 to 59 years.
  • There was no notable association between antibiotic use and death from cancer.
The study provides a good evidence that people who take antibiotics for long periods during adulthood may be a high-risk group and should be targeted for risk-factor modification to prevent heart disease and death.

References :
  1. Women's antibiotic use linked to higher risk of death from heart disease, other causes - (
Source: Medindia

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