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Howard G. Smith, M.D. is a former radio medical editor and talk show host in the Boston Metro area.  His "Medical Minute" of health and wellness news and commentary was a regular weekday feature on WBZ-AM, WRKO-AM, and WMRE-AM.   His popular two-way talk show, Dr. Howard Smith OnCall, was regularly heard Sunday morning and middays on WBZ.

More recently, Dr. Smith has adopted the 21st century technology of audio and video podcasting as conduits for the short health and wellness reports, HEALTH NEWS YOU SHOULD USE.  Many of these have video versions, and they may be found on his YouTube page:

Trained at Harvard Medical School and a long-time faculty member at Boston Children’s Hospital, he practiced Pediatric Otolaryngology for 40 years in Boston, Southern California, and in central Connecticut.

If you have questions or suggestions about this content, please email the doctor at or leave him a message at 516-778-8864.  His website is:

Please note that the news, views, commentary, and opinions that Dr. Smith provides are for informational purposes only.  Any changes that you or members of your family contemplate making to lifestyle, diet, medications, or medical therapy should always be discussed beforehand with personal physicians who have been supervising your care.

Jan 9, 2019

If you’re taking an antibiotic with “FLOXACIN” in its name, listen up.  The FDA wants you to know that the drug can weaken the walls of your aorta leading to deadly ruptures.


The fluoroquinolone antibiotics including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), ofloxacin (Floxin), and moxifloxacin (Avelox) and a few others have been around for more than 30 years, and they can be invaluable for treating some nasty bacteria that other drugs won’t touch.  Although used in Europe, their approval by the FDA for use in the USA was delayed for many years by concerns about their tendency to weakening connective tissues leading to tendon ruptures.  Now, after FDA approval, they are increasingly and unnecessarily being prescribed for less critical infections such as sinusitis that other antibiotics can effectively treat.


This year, the FDA issued significant warnings and labelling changes due to an accumulation of adverse event reports.  This past July, the FDA strengthened warnings that this class of drugs can cause serious mental disturbances including disorientation, agitation, memory impairment, nervousness as well as blood sugar disturbances including hypoglycemic coma.


Now, the FDA heralds a more serious warning: the “FLOXIN” antibiotics tendency to weaken connective tissue can lead to a sudden rupture of the aorta, the high-pressure “fire hose” leading from your heart and distributing arterial blood back to the heart itself, your brain, and to other vital organs.  If an aortic tear occurs, sudden death can follow.  If you’re luckier, an excruciating back pain may drive you to the hospital where a risky operation often requiring cardiac bypass may stabilize your situation.


Persons with high blood pressure, known vascular disease especially aortic aneurysms, advanced age, neurologic conditions, and diabetes should not take the “FLOXIN” antibiotics.  If you are taking one of them, immediately ask your doctor if another, safer drug may be substituted.



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