The study which was based on all adults in NSW who received a prescription quit smoking medicine between 2011 and 2015, found when comparing varenicline and NRT patches as a prescribed pharmacotherapy, no difference in the risk of major cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.

The study, which used linked pharmaceutical dispensing, hospital and death records, also found a reduced risk of cardiovascular death among people using varenicline compared to those using nicotine patches.

Lead author, Dr Alys Havard from UNSW Sydney’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and the Centre for Big Data Research in Health said; “Varenicline, which is known to be the most efficacious of the pharmacotherapies, may be prescribed in preference to NRT without fear of increasing patients’ risk of major cardiovascular events.”

“Because varenicline is more effective than NRT, this should have a downstream effect of more smoking cessation,” said Dr Havard.

The study recognises that although there have been concerns about the possible increased risk of cardiovascular events associated with quit smoking medicines, the benefits of quitting smoking outweigh the potential risk from the medicines. It is therefore generally accepted that these medicines should be offered to everyone who wants to quit smoking.

“Knowing how these medicines compare to each other in terms of cardiovascular safety will help prescribers minimise any risk to their patients.”

“This is important new evidence that will help prescribers and patients wanting to quit smoking.”


You can read the paper In JAMA Network Open here.

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Katie Moses: P: 0401 713 850 |

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