Aortic Aneurysms and Aortic Dissections


Recent medical studies have found that the fluoroquinolone antibiotics Levaquin and Avelox can cause aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections. If you took a fluoroquinolone antibiotic and suffered an aortic injury, you may have a legal claim against the manufacturer.

Across the country, thousands of Aortic Aneurysm Lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of fluoroquinolone antibiotics based on negligence, fraud, and failure to warn of severe side effects.

What Is an Aortic Aneurysm?


An aneurysm is a swelling in the wall of an artery–a blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other areas of the body. An aneurysm has the potential to cause severe bleeding or death. You can think of it like a garden hose that has a weakened area. When there is too much water pressure, the weak area will bulge and potentially burst.

An aneurysm has the potential to cause severe bleeding or death.

Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, which is the major blood vessel that travels from the heart through the chest and abdomen. There are two types of aortic aneurysms—a thoracic aortic aneurysm is located in the chest, and an abdominal aortic aneurysm is located in the abdomen.

Aneurysms – especially those in the chest area – often produce no sympoms
If symptoms do occur, they may include:
Shortness of breath
A tearing pain in the chest, abdomen, or back
Difficulty swallowing or pain while swallowing
A ruptured aneurysm will cause symptoms such as:
Sudden, severe pain
An extreme drop in blood pressure
Signs of shock
Heart attack

What Is an Aortic Dissection?


An aortic dissection occurs when the inner layer of the aorta tears. Blood pours through the opening and flows between the layers of the blood vessel wall. This leads to separation of the inner and middle layers of the aorta. If this channel of blood ruptures the outside aortic wall, the aortic dissection can cause death. Aortic dissection can also decrease blood flow to the organs.

The symptoms of an aortic dissection typically appear suddenly and include:
Severe chest pain that feels like a heart attack
Anxiety and a feeling of doom
Fainting or dizziness
Heavy sweating
Nausea or vomiting
Pale skin
A quick, weak pulse
Shortness of breath

Aortic dissections are life threatening and must be treated immediately. When left untreated, one third of patients will die within 24 hours, and half will die within 48 hours.

What Causes Aortic Aneurysms and Aortic Dissections?


There are numerous reasons for the development of aortic aneurysms and dissections. For example, tobacco use, high blood pressure, infection in the aorta, trauma, blood vessel diseases in the aorta, or hardening of the arteries can cause aortic aneurysms. Chronic high blood pressure or congenital disorders—such as Marfan syndrome or bicuspid aortic valve—can lead to aortic dissection.

Aortic aneurysms or dissections could also occur from the use of certain prescription medications called fluoroquinolones.
Doctors prescribe fluoroquinolones for a wide variety of reasons:
Anthrax exposure
Acute sinusitis
Bone and joint infections
Infectious diarrhea
Lower respiratory tract infections
Skin infections
Typhoid fever
Urinary tract infections

Aortic aneurysms or dissections could also occur from the use of certain prescription medications called fluoroquinolones. Although the brand names for these prescriptions vary, Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin), and Avelox (moxifloxacin) are the most well-known.


Each year, doctors write millions of prescriptions for fluoroquinolones. In fact, they are the most widely used class of antibiotics in the United States. The number of people who used antibiotics like Cipro and Levaquin—and those who suffered severe side effects—has been high because physicians often overprescribe it.

For example, this type of medication should be reserved for severe bacterial infections, such as hospital-acquired pneumonia, but doctors have prescribed it as a first-line of defense against minor bacterial infections. These medications have saved lives in some instances, but they have also caused dangerous side effects in many users.

The New York Times reported that in 2010 fluoroquinolones became the best-selling antibiotic in the United States. One year later, thousands of individuals filed lawsuits against makers of the drugs for acute side effects they experienced after taking the drug. The lawsuits claimed that certain manufacturers, such as Johnson & Johnson, failed to properly warn doctors and consumers about the potential for fluoroquinolone use to cause side effects such as irreversible peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage. They also claimed that defendants neglected to conduct tests to ensure safety and concealed the dangers of the drugs. Many of these lawsuits, a number of which form multi-district litigation (MDL), are still ongoing.

Nerve damage has not been the only side effect of fluoroquinolone use. Evidence suggests that fluoroquinolone use is correlated with the degradation of collagen, which weakens the aortic wall and can result in aortic injury—such as aortic aneurysms or dissections. This is because collagen is one of the most important components of the aorta’s walls.

Two studies in 2015 linked fluoroquinolone use to aortic injury. Medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that linked fluoroquinolone use to a twofold increase in the risk of dissection and aneurysm within the first two months of using the drug. Shortly after this study was released, medical journal BMJ Open published a study that found a threefold increase in the risk of an aortic aneurysm after using fluoroquinolones.

Can an Aortic Aneurysm or Aortic Dissection Be Treated?


Treatment is available for both aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections, but both can lead to irreversible side effects or death if not treated immediately. Aortic aneurysms alone cause 15,000 deaths per year in the United States.

Aortic aneurysms alone cause 15,000 deaths per year in the United States.

Treatment of aortic aneurysms requires medication to reduce blood pressure and relax blood vessels. This decreases the risk of a rupture. In more severe cases, surgery may be required to repair or replace the part of the aortic wall that has become too weak. Aortic aneurysms in the upper chest usually require surgery immediately, but aneurysms in the lower chest and below the stomach may not be as life threatening. Doctors typically keep an eye on aneurysms in these latter locations for a certain period of time, depending on the size of the aneurysm. If the aneurysm continues to grow or causes problems, the patient will likely require surgery to repair or replace the artery before it bursts.


Treatment of aortic dissection is required immediately because the condition is life threatening. If a dissection occurs in the part of the aorta that exits the heart, it must be treated with surgery. Dissections that occur in other parts of the aorta can be treated with surgery or medication.


Currently, law firms across the country are investigating cases in which patients took fluoroquinolones and suffered aortic damage. With growing proof of a connection between fluoroquinolone use and aortic injury, those who have suffered aortic aneurysms or dissection after taking fluoroquinolones may be entitled to compensation.

If you used Cipro, Levaquin, or Avelox and suffered severe side effects, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug. Contact our firm today to talk with us about your potential claim.

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