Women who use antibiotics over a long period face increased risk of suffering from heart attack or stroke. Using antibiotics for more than two months may increase risk of heart disease by destroying good bacteria in the gut.

Duration Of Antibiotic Use And Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

In the new study, researchers looked at the data of 36,429 women spanning between 2004 and 2012. The participants were at least 60 years old when the study started.

The women were surveyed about their use of antibiotics when they were young (between 20 and 39 years old), when they reached middle age (between ages 40 and 59) and when they were 60 years and older.

Of the participants, 1,056 developed cardiovascular disease over the course of the follow-up period of nearly eight years.

The researchers found that the women who used antibiotics for two months or longer in late adulthood were 32 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared with those who did not use antibiotics.

Middle-aged women who took antibiotics for longer than two months had 28 percent higher risk than their counterparts who did not.

The findings mean that in women who take antibiotics for two months or more in late adulthood, six of every 1,000 would develop cardiovascular disease. In comparison, only three per 1,000 of those who had not taken antibiotics would do.

"In this study which examined the antibiotic use in different life-stages, longer duration of exposure to antibiotics in the middle and older adulthood was related to an increased risk of future CVD events among elderly women at usual risk." study researcher Lu Qi, from the Tulane University's Obesity Research Center, and colleagues wrote in their study.

Antibiotics May Destroy Beneficial Probiotic Bacteria

Qi said that a possible reason why use of antibiotics is associated with increased risk for heart attack and stroke is because these medications affect the balance of the microenvironment in the gut.

This destroys the beneficial probiotic bacteria and increases the prevalence of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can cause disease.

"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," he said.

The findings were published in the European Heart Journal on Thursday.

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