On Costs (and Benefits)…

JAMA says the heart risks of anti-pneumonia drug azithromycin are worth it.

JAMA says the heart risks of anti-pneumonia drug azithromycin are worth it.

 

Good morning, ProviderNation.

The fine folks at the Journal of the American Medical Association are giving big thumbs up to treating older folks with the antibiotic azithromycin—despite the increased risk of heart attacks that comes with taking azithromycin. In a study released late Tuesday, JAMA says it looked at the cases of nearly 64,000 elderly veterans treated for pneumonia in 118 Dept. of Veterans Affairs hospitals. Half of the veterans were given azithromycin, and half were given other drugs.

The veterans who took azithromycin had better survival rates, but did face “significantly increased odds of” heart attacks. Even so, those who had heart attacks after taking azithromycin were much more likely to survive their attacks than those who had heart attacks and had taken some other antibiotic, the researchers found. Further, the odds were about even between the two groups when considering cardiac events, arrhythmias, or heart failure, the docs say.

“For every one heart attack that did not lead to death,” says Eric Mortensen, MD, of Dallas’ VA hospital, azithromycin “actually saved seven lives.”

In other news, Pennsylvania Health Care Association honcho Stuart H. Shapiro says the Quaker State should show a little more brotherly love for its poorest elders; there’s yet another reason to get a good night’s sleep; some wayward lads and lasses will make nice with folks in a nursing home. (Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. E-mail him at wmyers@providermagazine.com. Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.)

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