Three types of smoking cessation therapies – nicotine replacement, an addiction drug and an antidepressant – don’t increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or heart-related death, and one appears to protect the heart, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed side effects from 63 different research studies of 30,508 people and found no increase in serious heart events from nicotine replacement gums and patches, the nicotine addiction treatment Chantix, or the antidepressant Wellbutrin.
They also found that Wellbutrin protected people from 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., associate professor of medicine at Stanford University and Canada Research Chair at the University of Ottawa.
The study helps put to rest concerns raised about serious cardiovascular risks posed by the treatments.
Smoking cessation is associated with improved cardiovascular health, increased life expectancy, improved quality of life and reduced healthcare costs for smoking-associated conditions, according to the American Heart Association.
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 nicotine replacement therapy and smoking at the same time, which is a bad idea.”
“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.”