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Assessment of stimulant use and cardiovascular event risks among older adults


Importance — Use of stimulants continues to increase among older adults for a variety of indications. An association between stimulant use and increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) events has been established among children and young adults, but few studies have explored the risk of CV events among older patients, a group with increased baseline risk.

Objective — To evaluate the association between stimulant use and risk of CV events among older adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants — This propensity score-matched cohort study, with 4 nonusers per 1 user, was conducted from July 1, 2017, to June 27, 2019, using data from population-based healthcare databases from Ontario, Canada, from January 1, 2002, to December 31, 2016. Included individuals were outpatients aged 66 years or older.

Exposures — Initiation of a prescription stimulant.

Main Outcomes and Measures — The primary outcome was a CV event, defined as a composite of emergency department visit or hospitalization for myocardial infarction, stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), or ventricular arrhythmia. Risk of CV event was assessed at 30 days, 180 days, and 365 days after initiation of stimulants from Cox proportional hazard models. A secondary analysis assessed each component of the primary outcome separately.

Results — Among 6457 older adults who initiated a prescription stimulant (ie, the exposed group) and 24 853 older adults who did not initiate such treatment (ie, the unexposed group), the distribution of baseline patient characteristics was well balanced after matching (sex: 3173 [49.1%] men vs 12 112 [48.7%] men; standardized difference, 0.01; median [IQR] age: 74 [69-80] years vs 74 [69-80] years; standardized difference, 0.01). Within this cohort, there were 932 CV events during the 365-day follow-up (5.11 events per 100 person-years among individuals who initiated stimulants). In the primary analysis, stimulant initiation was associated with increased risk of CV events at 30 days (hazard ratio [HR], 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.8) but not at 180 days (HR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.9-1.6) or 365 days (HR, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.6 to 1.8). In the secondary analysis, stimulant initiation was associated with increased risk of ventricular arrhythmias (HR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.1-8.7) and stroke or TIA (HR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.1) at 30 days.

Conclusions and Relevance — This cohort study found that stimulant use was associated with an early increase in CV events among older adults with no association for long-term use.



Tadrous M, Shakeri A, Chu C, Watt J, Mamdani MM, Juurlink DN, Gomes T. JAMA Netw Open. 2021; 4(10):e2130795. Epub 2021 Oct 25.

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