Extended varenicline treatment in a severe cardiopathic cigarette smoker: A case report

Elena Munarini, Chiara Marabelli, Paolo Pozzi, Roberto Boffi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and quitting tobacco use should be fundamental for cardiovascular patients. Varenicline is a smoking cessation pharmacological therapy able to improve the possibilities to successfully achieve this result. In 2011 the US Food and Drug Administration issued a safety announcement that varenicline may be associated with an increased risk of certain cardiovascular adverse events in patients who have cardiovascular disease. Following studies found no significant increase in cardiovascular serious adverse events associated with varenicline. For the first time in the literature, we describe the case of a cardiopathic hard smoker who received varenicline for 9 months without any side effect. By describing this case we want to underline the safety of varenicline, to illustrate the setting and the method that we used to support him and to underline the importance of promoting smoking cessation in heart patients. Case presentation: Varenicline was used to promote smoking cessation in a 52-year-old Caucasian man who smoked 40 cigarettes per day, despite two ischemic cardiovascular events. He asked for a consultation in a pharmacy's smoking cessation service and after the assessment phase varenicline was prescribed. Due to his difficulty to quit smoking and given his good tolerance of the drug, we extended the treatment with varenicline to 9 months in order to achieve and maintain a complete smoking abstinence; intensive behavioural counselling was combined with the pharmacological therapy. By using exhaled carbon monoxide measurement we assessed smoking abstinence up to 2 years. Conclusions: The use of varenicline for a period longer than 6 months has not been described in the literature, particularly in heart patients. The extended varenicline therapy was clinically monitored and allowed the patient to consolidate his abstinence; the intensive behavioural counselling helped him to overcome his strong psychological dependence. Promoting smoking cessation in people who have cardiovascular disease is crucial. Currently available medications, such as varenicline, increase the chances of success and the risk of possible side effects is outweighed by the lifetime benefits and we hope that clinicians use them more frequently and confidently.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalJournal of Medical Case Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 13 2015


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Side effects
  • Smoking cessation
  • Varenicline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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