A study published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed that smokers taking Chantix could increase their risk for heart attack and other serious cardiac problems. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Sonal Singh of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, it is clear that use of the popular smoking cessation drug could potentially raise the risk of heart attacks and irregular heartbeats in healthy patients. In fact, Dr. Singh further explained, “People want to quit smoking to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease but in this case they’re taking a drug that increases the risk for the very problems they’re trying to avoid.”

In the new study, researchers examined the data from 14 clinical trials involving more than 8,200 health people who were given either Chantix or a placebo. Based on the results, the study’s researchers ultimately calculated that patients taking Chantix had a 72 percent increased risk of experiencing serious adverse cardiac problems, compared to those patients taking only a placebo. Overall, Chantix substantially increased a smoker’s baseline risk of having heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure or other heart-related problems.

Chantix, also known as varenicline, is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. The anti-smoking drug is no stranger to scrutiny, as it has been known to cause changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depression and even suicidal thoughts or actions. Moreover, Chantix carries a boxed warning on its label, which is the most restrictive safety labeling required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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