Long-term antibiotic use elevates stroke, heart attack risk in women
Among women at normal CVD risk, long-term exposure to antibiotics in middle and older adulthood was associated with increased risk for future CVD events, researchers reported.
“Antibiotic use is the most critical factor in altering the balance of microorganisms in the gut. Previous studies have shown a link between alterations in the microbiotic environment of the gut and inflammation and narrowing of the blood vessels, stroke and heart disease,” Lu Qi, MD, PhD, HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and Professor and director of the Tulane University Obesity Research Center, said in a press release.
Qi and colleagues analyzed 36,429 women from the Nurses’ Health Study who did not have CVD or cancer at baseline. The women were aged 60 years or older in 2004 and were followed for a mean of 7.6 years. All women answered survey questions about antibiotic use during young (aged 20-39 years), middle (aged 40-59 years) and older (aged 60 years) adulthood.
The primary outcome of CVD, defined as CHD or stroke, was achieved by 1,056 women during the study period.
Antibiotic use for 2 months or more at age 60 years or older was associated with elevated risk for CVD (HR = 1.32; 95% CI, 1.03-1.7) after adjustment for covariates compared with women who did not use antibiotics at age 60 years or older, according to the researchers.
Long-term antibiotic use compared with no use in middle adulthood was associated with higher risk for CVD after controlling for certain covariates (P for trend = .003), but the relationship was not statistically significant after full adjustment (HR = 1.28; 95% CI, 0.95-1.7), Qi and colleagues wrote.
Antibiotic use in young adulthood was not associated with CVD risk, the researchers wrote.
“By investigating the duration of antibiotic use in various stages of adulthood, we have found an association between long-term use in middle age and later life and an increased risk of stroke and heart disease during the following 8 years,” Yoriko Heianza, PhD, a research fellow at Tulane, said in the release. “As these women grew older, they were more likely to need more antibiotics, and sometimes for longer periods of time, which suggests a cumulative effect may be the reason for the stronger link in older age between antibiotic use and cardiovascular disease.” – by Erik Swain
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.