Choosing nicotine patches over smoking cessation tablets does not reduce a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke, an Australian study has found, leading researchers to suggest that the pills should be offered as a first line of treatment to people who want to quit.
The new study, conducted by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center, used related drug dispensaries, hospital and death records from people who received prescription drugs to quit smoking between 2011 and 2015.
It found that there was no difference in the incidence of serious cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke, in people who were prescribed the smoking cessation pill varenicline, commonly known by the brand name as Champix, as opposed to those who were prescribed nicotine patches. . .
It also found that there was a slightly reduced risk of death due to a cardiovascular event in individuals who were prescribed varenicline as opposed to nicotine patches.
Main author Dr. Alys Havard said that although decades of international research had suggested that varenicline increased a person’s risk of serious heart problems, this population-based study added growing evidence that this is not the case.
“With the cardiovascular effects, the evidence was always a bit inconsistent – some studies showed that there was a small increased risk and others did not,” she said.
Dr. Havard said that given that smoking was a risk factor for heart problems, the study made it clear that people should not hesitate to take prescribed medication to help them quit.
“It’s important to remember that these drugs are offered to people who have often tried other things, tried to become cold turkeys – it’s about relative risk rather than absolute,” she said, adding that smoking cessation pills, which have shown to be more effective than patches in clinical trials, should be offered to anyone who wants to stop.