Anti-Smoking Pill Increases the Risk of Heart Attack

Varenicline substantially increased the risk of a serious cardiovascular event even among smokers without heart disease.

Healthy, middle-aged smokers taking the most popular drug on the market to quit smoking have a 72 percent higher risk of being hospitalized with a heart attack or other serious health problems as opposed to those taking a placebo, according to a study at Johns Hopkins University.

Sonal Singh, an assistant professor of general internal medicine and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine conducted the study. He and his colleagues performed 14 double blind, randomized, and controlled clinical trials involving more than 8,200 healthy people who received either varenicline (Chantix) or a placebo.

While both groups had the same amount of people die (seven), the increased risk of a major harmful cardiovascular event such as heart attack or arrhythmia was 72 percent among the varenicline users.

Overall, Singh’s study found that varenicline substantially increased the risk of a serious cardiovascular event even among smokers without heart disease. “People want to quit smoking to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease but in this case they’re taking a drug that increases the risk for the very problems they’re trying to avoid,” said Singh. “People should be concerned. They don’t need Chantix to quit and this is another reason to consider avoiding Chantix all together.”

Around the Web

Pill to quit smoking ups heart attack risk [The Times of India]

Heart risks added to Chantix health concerns [CNN Health]

FDA: Chantix Linked to Heart Attack in People With Heart Disease [WebMD]