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Varenicline for smoking cessation linked to increased risk of serious harmful cardiac events
Date:7/4/2011

bstinence in the trials, which should potentially induce a cardiovascular benefit, the participants allocated to varenicline experienced an increase in the risk of serious adverse cardiovascular events," they write. "These increased risks of adverse cardiovascular events are seen in smokers with or without heart disease," according to the authors.

They note additional risks of depression, agitation and suicidal thoughts which resulted in the FDA issuing a boxed warning - the highest level of warning - for the drug.

Despite study limitations such as variable data and lack of statistical strength, the researchers conclude that "clinicians should carefully balance the risk of serious cardiovascular events and other serious neuropsychiatric adverse events associated with varenicline against their known benefits on smoking cessation."

In a related commentary http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj110804.pdf., Dr. Taylor Hays from the Mayo Clinic writes, "Although these results suggest a measure of caution should be taken in prescribing varenicline for tobacco dependence treatment, the small absolute risk of cardiovascular events associated with varenicline treatment is outweighed by the enormous benefit for reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality that can be achieved with successful smoking abstinence."

"The risk for cardiovascular events is low and is far outweighed by the benefits of diminishing the truly "heartbreaking" effects of cigarette smoking," he concludes.


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Contact: Kim Barnhardt
kim.barnhardt@cmaj.ca
613-520-7116 x2224
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Source:Eurekalert

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