The FDA is alerting people about a potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmia caused by the antibiotic Zithromax. Commonly known as Zmax, Z-Pack, and Azithromycin, it is commonly used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. It belongs to the class of antibiotics known as macrolides and is taken as a 5 day course.

There have been reports that Zithromax increases the risk of a potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmia. The risk of arrhythmias has been compared to the risks in other antibiotics such as levofloxacin, amoxicillin, and ciprofloxacin. The risk of a fatal cardiac arrhythmia from Zithromax was the same as with Levofloxacin, but higher than that of amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin.

Zithromax is known to cause QT prolongation. The QT interval is the part of the heart beat where the lower chambers in the heart known as ventricles contract and then refills with blood. Zithromax can damage to the electrical recharging system of the heart so it does not beat properly, which can result in fatal cardiac arrhythmias.

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