Three major smoking cessation therapies pose no serious heart risks

Three major types of smoking cessation therapies don't increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or heart-related death, according to research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

In recent years, there has been concern that some products may have serious cardiovascular risks. But in the largest analysis of side effects (63 clinical trials and 30,508 people), serious heart events didn't increase with nicotine replacement gums and patches or the nicotine addiction treatment varenicline (Chantix), and the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) protected against serious heart events.

"Undoubtedly, the benefits of quitting smoking outweigh any potential risks from smoking cessation therapies," said Edward J. Mills, Ph.D., M.Sc., study co-author and associate professor of medicine at Stanford University and Canada Research Chair at the University of Ottawa.

Smoking cessation is associated with improved cardiovascular health, increased life expectancy, improved quality of life and reduced healthcare costs for smoking-associated conditions.

Nicotine replacement therapy via patch or gum increased the risk of minor heart symptoms such as a rapid or irregular heartbeat, researchers said.

"These more minor risks are well known to clinicians and usually pass with time," Mills said. "They occur most often when people are taking and smoking at the same time, which is a bad idea."

Previously, the researchers found that combination therapy—wearing a patch and using when there is the urge to smoke—may be more effective but lead to more side effects than the gum or patch alone.

Most patients in the analysis were relatively healthy, so the results may not be true for everyone.

"It's possible that the risk factors might be different in people with multiple diseases," Mills said. "Patients should discuss with their healthcare provider any potential risk factors that they may have developed from their smoking history. For patients who have chronic lung disease or other associated cardiovascular risks, clinicians should determine which smoking cessation aid to use by their risk profiles."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Quitting smoking: Licensed medications are effective

May 30, 2013

Nicotine replacement therapy and other licensed drugs can help people quit smoking, according to a new systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. The study, which is an overview of previous Cochrane reviews, suppor ...

Short-term smoking cessation reverses endothelial damage

Sep 01, 2013

Eight weeks of smoking cessation reverses the endothelial damage caused by smoking, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Dr. Yasuaki Dohi from Japan. Serotonin remained elevated, suggesting eight weeks ...

Recommended for you

Gene variant raises risk for aortic tear and rupture

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers from Yale School of Medicine and Celera Diagnostics have confirmed the significance of a genetic variant that substantially increases the risk of a frequently fatal thoracic aortic dissection or full rupture. ...

Considerable variation in CT use in ischemic stroke

Apr 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—For patients with ischemic stroke there is considerable variation in the rates of high-intensity computed tomography (CT) use, according to a study published online April 8 in Circulation: Ca ...

Beating the clock for ischemic stroke sufferers

Apr 17, 2014

A ground-breaking computer technology raises hope for people struck by ischemic stroke, which is a very common kind of stroke accounting for over 80 per cent of overall stroke cases. Developed by research experts at The Hong ...

User comments