Q. My mother has taken the stop-smoking drug Chantix for nearly a month. She no longer has any desire to smoke, but she has had severe side effects. They were nausea, a bad taste in her mouth, stomach cramps, gas, bloating, irritability, vivid dreams, extreme sleepiness but inability to stay asleep, chills, increased appetite, mild confusion, and aches all over. She also had dreams that continued a few minutes after she woke up and she was convinced they were real. She’s had vomiting spells, audio hallucinations and tinnitus.
I just found out that if there are signs of anger, depression, confusion or hallucinations, the drug should be stopped immediately. I also read online that people with heart problems should not take this medicine. My mother’s doctor must not be aware of this problem. How worrisome is it?
A. All of the side effects your mother experienced have been reported with Chantix. Some studies have also raised concerns about an increased risk of heart attacks, irregular heart rhythms, congestive heart failure or heart-related death (Canadian Medical Association Journal, Sept. 6, 2011; Drug Safety, Jan. 1, 2012). We think doctors should be cautious about prescribing this medicine for smokers with heart problems. Your mother should discuss her symptoms with her doctor.