Use of Prescription Medications with Cardiovascular Adverse Effects Among Older Adults in the United States


Many commonly used prescription medications have cardiovascular adverse effects, yet the cumulative risk of cardiovascular events associated with the concurrent use of these medications is unknown. We examined the association between the concurrent use of prescription medications with known risk of a major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE) (“MACE medications”) and the risk of such events among older adults.


A multi-center, population-based study from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study of a cohort of 3669 community-dwelling adults aged 61–86 years with no history of cardiovascular disease who reported the use of at least one medication between September 2006 and August 2013 were followed up until August 2015. Exposure defined as time-varying and time-fixed use of 1, 2 or ≥3 MACE medications with non-MACE medications serving as negative control. Primary outcome was incident MACE defined as coronary artery revascularization, myocardial infarction, fatal coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiac arrest, or death.


In fully adjusted models, there was an increased risk of MACE associated with use of 1, 2, or ≥3 MACE medications (1 MACE: hazards ratio [HR], 1.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.94–1.57); 2 MACE: HR 1.89, CI 1.42–2.53; ≥3 MACE: HR 2.22, CI 1.61–3.07) compared to use of non-MACE medications. These associations persisted in propensity score-matched analyses and among new users of MACE medications, never users of cardiovascular medications and subgroups of participants with increased risk of MACE. There was no association between the number of non-MACE medications used and MACE.

Conclusions and Relevance

In this community-based cohort of older adults with no prior cardiovascular disease, the use of MACE medications was independently and consistently associated with an increased risk of such events in a dose–response fashion.

A press release for this study can be found here. The full study is available in Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety.