Varenicline is Not Linked to Heart Disease or Depression

Varenicline, a prescription medicine used to help quit smoking, does not increase cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric risks


Varenicline is a prescription drug used to help adult patients quit smoking. In a recent study published in the Lancet, Kotz and colleagues assessed whether use of varenicline increases the risk of heart problems and episodes of depression. The authors reviewed the medical histories of approximately 1.6 adult patients who had taken varenicline between January 2007 and June 2012 to help them quit smoking. Patients taking varenicline were compared to patients taking bupropion, an antidepressant (widely known under the market name Welbutrin) which also reduces symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Patients who received nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) were also compared with patients who received varenicline.

The researchers found no evidence that varenicline use was associated with increased risk of heart problems (e.g., heart problems, heart attack) or depression-related episodes (e.g., depression, self-harm and suicide) compared with NRT. They concluded that varenicline does not appear to be associated with cardiovascular or neuropsychiatric side-effects as previously thought.



Daniel Kotz, Wolfgang Viechtbauer, Colin Simpson, Onno C P van Schayck, Robert West, Aziz Sheikh “Cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric risks of varenicline: a retrospective cohort study” Lancet Volume 3, No. 10, p761–768, October 2015






Written by Jennifer J. Park , MA

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