Antibiotic exposure in middle and late adulthood linked to CVD risk

Research published in the European Heart Journal suggests that prolonged antibiotic use by women during middle-to-late adulthood has an adverse effect on cardiovascular health.

Older woman taking antibiotics ss19

Women exposed to antibiotics in middle or older adulthood have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), a study published in the European Heart Journal (24 April 2019) has suggested[1]

The research team took data from the Nurses’ Health Study on 36,429 women who did not have CVD at baseline in 2004, when information on antibiotic use was assessed. The women were followed up for an average of 7.6 years, during which time 1,056 (2.9%) of them developed CVD.

The researchers found that use of antibiotics for two or more months was associated with a 28% higher risk of CVD in middle adulthood (40–59 years) and a 32% increased risk in later adulthood (60 years and over).

The team said the findings could be at least partly explained by the effect of antibiotics on the gut microbiota, either directly on cardiovascular health or indirectly through weight gain and inflammation.

“Our study suggests that antibiotics should be used only when they are absolutely needed,” said lead author Lu Qi, from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“Considering the potentially cumulative adverse effects, the shorter time of antibiotic use the better.”


[1] Heianza Y, Zheng Y, Ma W et al. Duration and life-stage of antibiotic use and risk of cardiovascular events in women. Euro Heart J 2019. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehz231

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, June 2019, Vol 11, No 6;11(6):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206516

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