HealthDay News — For women in middle and late adulthood, longer duration of antibiotic use is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, according to a study published online April 24 in the European Heart Journal.

Yoriko Heianza, R.D., Ph.D., from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, and colleagues examined the correlations of life-stage and antibiotic exposure with subsequent CVD events among 36,429 women. Hazard ratios were estimated for CVD (composite end point of coronary heart disease or stroke) according to antibiotic duration in young, middle, and late adulthood (age 20 to 39, 40 to 59, and 60 years and older, respectively).

The researchers found that 1,056 participants developed CVD during an average follow-up of 7.6 years. After adjustment for covariates (such as demographic factors, diet and lifestyle, reasons for antibiotic use, overweight or obesity, disease status, and other medication use), women with long-term (at least two months) antibiotic use in late adulthood had a significantly increased risk for CVD (hazard ratio, 1.32) compared with women in late adulthood who did not use antibiotics. After adjustment for these covariates, longer duration of antibiotic use in middle adulthood was also associated with a higher risk for CVD. There was no significant correlation for antibiotic use in young adulthood with CVD risk.

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“Our study suggests that antibiotics should be used only when they are absolutely needed,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Considering the potentially cumulative adverse effects, the shorter time of antibiotic use the better.”

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