Use of antihistamines and risk of ventricular tachyarrhythmia: a nested case-control study in five European countries from the ARITMO project

PURPOSE: After regulatory restrictions for terfenadine and astemizole in ’90s, only scarce evidence on proarrhythmic potential of antihistamines has been published. We evaluate the risk of ventricular tachyarrhythmia (VA) related to the use of indiidual antihistamines. METHODS: A matched case-control study nested in a cohort of new users of antihistamines was conducted within the EU-funded ARITMO project. Data on 1997-2010 were retrieved from seven healthcare databases: AARHUS (Denmark), GEPARD (Germany), HSD and ERD (Italy), PHARMO and IPCI (Netherlands) and THIN (UK). Cases of VA were selected and up to 100 controls were matched to each case. The odds ratio (OR) of current use for individual antihistamines (AHs) was estimated using conditionallogistic regression. RESULTS: For agents largely used to prevent allergic symptoms, such as cetirizine, levocetirizine, loratadine, desloratadine and fexofenadine, we found no VA risk. A statistically significant, increased risk of VA was found only forcurrent use of cyclizine in the pooled analysis (ORadj, 5.3; 3.6-7.6) and in THIN (ORadj, 5.3; 95% CI, 3.7-7.6), for dimetindene in GEPARD (ORadj, 3.9; 1.1-14.7) and for ebastine in GEPARD (ORadj, 3.3; 1.1-10.8) and PHARMO (ORadj, 4.6; 1.3-16.2). CONCLUSIONS: The risk of VA associated with a few specific antihistamines could be ascribable to heterogeneity in pattern of use or in receptor binding profile.

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