Antibiotics linked to abnormal, possibly fatal heart rhythms.

Z-Pak has been implicated in producing disturbing side effects. The drug, azithromycin, also sells under the name Zithromax or Zmax.

The has released its warning after it investigated a study on the drug that was published last May in the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as reviewing another study by a manufacturer of the antibiotic.

The lead study involved researchers at looking at the records of thousands of Tennessee Medicaid patients over a period of 14 years. They found a 2.5 times higher risk of death from heart disease in the first five days of using a Z-Pak when compared to another common antibiotic or no antibiotics at all.

The drug may cause changes in the electrical activity of the heart, according to the .

People with underlying heart problems seem to be especially vulnerable to developing this condition, said , professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt and the study’s lead researcher.

The said patients who have low blood levels of potassium or magnesium are at a higher risk. Patients who have a slower than normal or are already taking drugs to treat arrhythmias should also be cautious.

Pfizer, which produces the drug, released a statement Tuesday, saying: “The majority of patients treated with Zithromax (azithromycin) are not affected by this update.”

Drug labels for azithromycin have been updated to include warnings about this risk, the said.

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