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Antibiotics and Blood Pressure Drugs are a Risky Mix

Older adults who take the blood pressure drugs known as calcium channel blockers can suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure if they are given certain antibiotics. If such patients take erythromycin or clarithromycin, they are at an increased risk of being hospitalized for dangerously low blood pressure.

The antibiotics are members of a class known as macrolide antibiotics. They are the most widely prescribed class of antibiotics worldwide. Calcium channel blockers are also among the most commonly used long-term medications

Reuters reports:

"The problem with erythromycin and clarithromycin is that they inhibit an enzyme vital to metabolizing calcium channel blockers ... As a result, blood levels of the calcium channel blocker spike, leading to sometimes severe drops in blood pressure."

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