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Major Smoking-Cessation Therapies Pose No Serious Heart Risks

Antidepressant bupropion protects against serious events (December 9)

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

In recent years, there has been concern that some smoking-cessation products might pose serious cardiovascular risks. But in the largest analysis of side effects (63 clinical trials and 30,508 people), serious heart events did not increase with nicotine-replacement gums and patches or with the nicotine-addiction treatment varenicline (Chantix, Pfizer). In addition, the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin, GlaxoSmithKline) protected against serious heart events.

“Undoubtedly, the benefits of quitting smoking outweigh any potential risks from smoking cessation therapies,” said co-author Edward J. Mills, PhD, MSc.

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

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

“It’s possible that the risk factors might be different in people with multiple diseases,” Mills said. “Patients should discuss with their health care 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.”

Source: AHA; December 9, 2013.

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