Do SSRIs Increase Cardiovascular Risk?

Fluoxetine actually seems to protect against myocardial infarction, researchers say
Fluoxetine actually seems to protect against myocardial infarction, researchers say

HealthDay News — Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) don't appear to raise cardiovascular risk among young and middle-age patients, according to research published online March 22 in The BMJ.

Carol Coupland, PhD, a professor of medical statistics in primary care at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data collected by the U.K. QResearch database, which covers more than 12 million British patients treated at 600 general practice facilities. Of these patients, 238,963 were between 20 and 64 years old and diagnosed with depression between 2000 and 2011; 71.3% were taking SSRIs. Their heart health was tracked until 2012.

During roughly 5 years of follow-up, 772 patients experienced a myocardial infarction, 1,106 had a stroke or transient ischemic attack, and 1,452 were diagnosed with an arrhythmia. When the study team looked at different types of antidepressants, as well as dosage and duration, they found no significant association between SSRIs and an increased risk for myocardial infarction, stroke, or arrhythmia. Overall, myocardial infarction risk was lower for those taking SSRIs when compared with those who took no antidepressants of any kind.

Fluoxetine seemed particularly protective, in terms of reducing risk for myocardial infarction and arrhythmia, the researchers said. And citalopram was not linked to any increase in heartbeat irregularity risk, even at relatively high doses, despite a related U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety warning issued in 2011. Nevertheless, "with this type of observational study it isn't possible to make firm conclusions about cause and effect," Coupland told HealthDay.

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