Quit-smoking drugs safe for your heart - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Quit-smoking drugs safe for your heart

Posted:

By Nadia Kounang, CNN

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death world-wide. About half of all long-term smokers will die because of their addiction. But the good news is that nearly 70% of current smokers want to quit, says the CDC.

And using an effective treatment to help kick the habit can almost double or triple one's chance of success. Replacement therapies like the nicotine patch or gum, or medications like the antidepressant buproprion (sold as Wellbutrin or Zyban) and varenicline (commonly known as Chantix), can help reduce one's cravings to smoke and deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Headlines in recent years have questioned the cardiovascular risks of these drugs. But new research says that these drugs carry little risk of heart attack or stroke.

The new meta-analysis published this week in the journal Circulation is the largest analysis of its kind, with study authors surveying 63 different clinical trials encompassing more than 30,500 smokers. Unlike previous studies, which only looked at the effectiveness and safety of each individual drug, this analysis compared all three methods of smoking cessation.

The study found that none of these three therapies  - gum, patch and  antidepressants - increased the risk of major cardiovascular events. Those taking Zyban, Wellbutrin and Chantix had lowest risk of any serious heart event, while those taking nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum or a patch, had a slightly increased risk for minor side effects like a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

The study results even suggest that Wellbutrin may even  protect against serious cardiovascular events. But the study authors cannot explain why.

"Undoubtedly, the benefits of quitting smoking outweigh any potential risks from smoking cessation therapies," said Dr. Edward Mills, co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Mills, along with other study authors, has consulted to Merck, Pfizer, Takeda, Novartis, or GlaxoSmithKline, which all manufacture smoking cessation drugs.  However, none of the companies were involved with this particular analysis.

Dr. Jonathan Samet, director of the University of Southern California's Institute for Global Health, argued that  a large meta-analysis is difficult and imprecise. "I think they've done technically a good job -- but there's just not as much as we like in terms of the evidence," he said.

He also added, "there isn't a huge risk that we're likely to be missing" when it comes to these therapies.

When looking specifically at the heart, "the main problem are side effects, not heart attack and death," said  Dr. Russell Luepker, spokesman for the American Heart Association. "The risks are low, and if you look at the benefits of quitting smoking, they are greater than the benefit."

The findings seem to counter the last meta-anlysis of Chantix back in 2011, which found the drug increased the risk of heart attacks.  Mills said that this new study is more precise because of its comparative method, allowing for "greater power and precision" of results.

Wellbutrin, Zyban and Chantix also come with increased mental health risk. In 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration required black box labeling for all three drugs because they cause side effects  like behavior changes, depression, hostility, and suicidal thoughts.

However, the FDA also admitted that it was unclear whether some of these effects weren't actually symptoms of nicotine withdrawal .

Mills acknowledged that the risk for suicide and mental health issues remains, "even though all assessments have not demonstrated an effect of these therapies on suicidality. The current thinking is that the stress of quitting may be a causative factor."

What all the doctors do agree on is that quitting smoking doesn't have a blanket prescription, but rather needs to be individualized for the patient. According to Luepker, that most commonly means a combination of both drugs and behavioral therapy, like counseling. "If you can use the two of them, a program plus drug, you're more likely to be successful."
   
 The-CNN-Wire
 ™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
 

  • Padre Island National Seashore, South Beach Temporarily Closed to Vehicle Traffic

    Padre Island National Seashore, South Beach Temporarily Closed to Vehicle Traffic

    The Padre Island National Seashore will be closing off the area known as South Beach to vehicle traffic beginning at 6:00 PM Tuesday.Early Tuesday the National Weather Service issued a Coastal Flood Advisory for Nueces and Kleberg counties from 10:00 PM Tuesday until Wednesday at 12 Noon. Representatives with the Padre Island National Seashore say they are closing off South Beach to traffic during the advisory.Park officials say vehicles will be allowed back on the beach as soon as conditions...More >>
    The Padre Island National Seashore will be closing off the area known as South Beach to vehicle traffic beginning at 6:00 PM Tuesday.Early Tuesday the National Weather Service issued a Coastal Flood Advisory for Nueces and Kleberg counties from 10:00 PM Tuesday until Wednesday at 12 Noon. Representatives with the Padre Island National Seashore say they are closing off South Beach to traffic during the advisory.Park officials say vehicles will be allowed back on the beach as soon as conditions...More >>
  • Hours After Arrest Warrant Is Issued, Suspect is Caught

    Hours After Arrest Warrant Is Issued, Suspect is Caught

    Daniel Martinez, 32, has been arrested on Theft and Burglary charges on Tuesday. It was back on August 21 when Corpus Christi police raided a home along the 1700 block of Nile Dr.Early Tuesday morning, police got arrest warrants for Martinez stemming from a raid of a home along the 1700 block of Nile. Hours later, Martinez was pulled over along the 6400 block of Vincent Drive. Police officers recognized Martinez as a wanted person and arrested him. The truck he was driving was taken to the Co...More >>
    Daniel Martinez, 32, has been arrested on Theft and Burglary charges on Tuesday. It was back on August 21 when Corpus Christi police raided a home along the 1700 block of Nile Dr.Early Tuesday morning, police got arrest warrants for Martinez stemming from a raid of a home along the 1700 block of Nile. Hours later, Martinez was pulled over along the 6400 block of Vincent Drive. Police officers recognized Martinez as a wanted person and arrested him. The truck he was driving was taken to the Co...More >>
  • Terror Group Posts "A Second Message to America"

    Terror Group Posts "A Second Message to America"

    (CNN) -- The ISIS terror group has published a video titled "A second message to America," showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.The video also threatens the life of British captive, David Haines.Sotloff speaks to the camera before he is killed, saying he is "paying the price" for U.S. intervention.The masked ISIS figure in the video speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama, telling him, "Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike...More >>
    (CNN) -- The ISIS terror group has published a video titled "A second message to America," showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.The video also threatens the life of British captive, David Haines.Sotloff speaks to the camera before he is killed, saying he is "paying the price" for U.S. intervention.The masked ISIS figure in the video speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama, telling him, "Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike...More >>