Zithromax, also known as azithromycin, is an antibiotic that helps stop bacterial cells from growing, which has proved helpful to those suffering from a variety of ailments such as bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia and strep throat. However, a study that was published in the Annals of Family Medicine earlier this year found that those taking it experienced an increased risk of cardiac arrest and death. Older patients were especially susceptible to these risks. As a result of this and previous studies, many of those who have been negatively affected by Zithromax have considered consulting a prescription drug lawsuit attorney and filing a lawsuit. A total of 594,792 patients who were taking this drug were included in the recent study, and these individuals were found to have experienced a 77 percent increase in their risk of cardiac arrhythmia and a 48 percent increase in their risk of death during the first five days of treatment with Zithromax. Although no increase in risk was experienced by these individuals from the sixth through the 10th days of treatment, this drug is typically prescribed for just five days. Dr. Gowtham Rao, a preventative medicine physician with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine who served as the lead author of this study, said that doctors and patients should use antibiotics with caution and to weigh the risks and rewards of drugs such as Zithromax. He went on to say that other antibiotics or alternative forms of medication may be better suited for these patients. Dr. Scott Strayer, a professor with the USC School of Medicine who also worked on the study, estimated that 4,500 deaths were likely caused by the use of Zithromax in 2011. Those involved with organizing the study also pointed out that this drug is being overprescribed by many doctors and that doing this helps antibiotic-resistant organisms form and cause the drug to not work as well on these patients in the future as they develop a tolerance for it. However, many of those who are considering consulting a class action lawsuit lawyer or a pharmaceutical lawsuit attorney are most concerned with the harm that it clearly causes patients within the first five days upon taking it. The patients involved with this study were enrolled at medical centers run by the Department of Veteran Affairs. The mean age of these individuals was 57. Zithromax was linked to cardiovascular risks in previous studies as well. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration released a warning that Zithromax may cause a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm. Patients who already had conditions such as a slow heart rate or low blood levels of magnesium or potassium were particularly susceptible to experiencing this increased risk. A year earlier, a study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that those taking Zithromax experienced an increase in their risk of death. Also that year, the FDA sent a warning letter to Pfizer over what the organization viewed as "false or misleading" advertising related to Zithromax and the risks that were connected with the drug. Thousands of lawsuits and wrongful death allegations have been generated as a result of these studies and warnings. Zithromax was discovered in 1980 by a group of researchers in Croatia that was led by Dr. Slobodan Dokic, and it was patented a year later. In 1986, Pfizer attained exclusive rights to disburse it in the United States and Western Europe. Two years later, Pliva placed it on the market in the rest of Europe, including in its home of Croatia. Zithromax has been ranked as the most prescribed antibiotic in the United States.