Skip to main content

The safety, effectiveness and utilisation of smoking cessation pharmacotherapies among smokers hospitalised for a cardiovascular event in NSW

Centre for Big Data Research in Health, UNSW Sydney

  • Early-Mid Career Fellowship
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 31 May, 2018
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Alys Havard

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke, are a leading cause of disease and death. In patients who have experienced a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, smoking increases the risk of future events and death. Programs supporting cardiac patients to quit smoking improve survival and quality of life, and reduce the burden on the hospital system. However, smoking remains undertreated in cardiac patients. Prescribed medicines, including Zyban, Champix and Nicotine Replacement Therapy, are the most effective strategies available to help smokers quit, but there have been highly publicised concerns regarding their safety among cardiac patients, contributing to reluctance to prescribe and use these treatments.

This project will examine whether these safety concerns are supported by Australian data. It will also determine which of the three medicines is most likely to have the greatest long term benefit for cardiac patients, and the extent to which each of these medicines are currently used by cardiac patients after discharge from NSW hospitals. It will achieve this by linking records of filled prescriptions with other data from health services in NSW. This will be the largest study of the safety and effectiveness of prescribed medicines for smoking cessation conducted to date, and the first conducted in Australia. It will use sophisticated statistical techniques that allow data to be analysed in a way that closely replicates the characteristics of a clinical trial.

This project will provide clinically useful information about the risks and benefits of prescribed quit aids when used by cardiac patients. This will allow cardiac patients and health care providers to make informed decisions about whether a smoking cessation medicine and which one(s), should be used. This evidence, together with statistics on how many patients receive these quit aids after they leave hospital, will indicate whether efforts to promote or discourage use of any of these treatments among cardiac patients are needed. The research team will communicate the findings to staff of NSW Health services, cardiology units in particular, so that protocols and guidelines for the discharge of cardiac patients can be updated. Likewise, the findings will be shared with general practitioners to guide the in-community prescribing of smoking cessation aids to patients with cardiovascular disease. By informing changes to the care of cardiac patients who smoke, this project has the potential to improve the survival of patients with cardiovascular disease and reduce healthcare costs.