Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety
ISSN / EISSN : 2042-0986 / 2042-0994
Published by: SAGE Publications (10.1177)
Total articles ≅ 372
Latest articles in this journal
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 13; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211068914
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/2042098621989134
Background: Multiple published quantitative systematic reviews have reported on adverse events associated with the use of sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Aims: To summarize and appraise the quality of evidence from quantitative systematic reviews assessing adverse events of SGLT-2 inhibitors. Methods: We searched PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library for quantitative systematic reviews assessing SGLT-2 inhibitor safety. Two reviewers extracted data and assessed methodological quality using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews 2 (AMSTAR 2) tool. Main outcomes included pooled and single study point estimaates (in the absence of pooled estimates) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of SGLT-2 inhibitors versus placebo or active comparators for genitourinary infections, volume depletion, acute kidney injury, bone fractures, diabetic ketoacidosis, lower limb amputations, cancers, and other notable adverse events. Results: Out of 1289 citations screened, 47 reviews assessed SGLT-2 inhibitor safety, of which 35 were of low quality. Canagliflozin, dapagliflozin and empagliflozin were consistently associated with an increased risk of genital tract infections versus placebo (point estimates ranged from 2.5 to 9.8) and other antihyperglycemic agents (point estimates ranged from 2.7 to 12.0). Canagliflozin and dapagliflozin were associated with an increased risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. Canagliflozin was the only agent associated with an increased amputation risk; however, this was driven by results from a single trial program. Dapagliflozin was the only agent that exhibited a statistically significant increased risk of urinary tract infections. Empagliflozin was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of bladder cancer; however, this finding was susceptible to detection bias. None of the agents were associated with a statistically significant increased risk of acute kidney injury, or bone fractures compared to placebo or mixed (active or placebo) comparators. Upper 95% CI limits do not rule out clinically meaningful outcomes. Conclusion: The majority of quantitative systematic reviews reporting on adverse events of SGLT-2 inhibitors were of low methodological quality. Despite almost 50 quantitative systematic reviews published on the safety of SGLT-2 inhibitors, clinicians are still left uncertain of the risks of important adverse effects. Plain Language Summary SGLT-2 iInhibitor side effects: overview of reviews Many published systematic reviews have reported on side effects associated with the use of sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors in patients with type 2 diabetes. We aimed to summarize and appraise the quality of evidence from quantitative systematic reviews assessing side effects of SGLT-2 inhibitors. Using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews 2 (AMSTAR 2) tool, two authors extracted data and assessed the methods of included reviews. Main outcomes included reported pooled and single study point estimates for several SGLT-2 inhibitor side effects such as genital infections, bone fractures, lower limb amputations, increased blood acidity, among others. Of the reviews included in our study, 35 of the 47 reviews assessed were of low quality. Canagliflozin and dapagliflozin were associated with an increased risk of blood acidity in a 2020 review. Canagliflozin was the only agent associated with an increased amputation risk; however, this was driven by results from a single trial program. Dapagliflozin was the only agent that exhibited a significantly increased risk of urinary tract infections. Empagliflozin was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer; however, this finding was susceptible to bias. None of the agents were associated with an increased risk of kidney injury or bone fractures.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211062965
Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a frequent and serious disease that requires immediate and long-term anticoagulant treatment, which is inevitably associated with a risk of bleeding complications. Some studies, though not all, reported a higher risk of bleeding in female patients treated with either old anticoagulants [vitamin k antagonists (VKAs)] or recent anticoagulants [direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs)]. Furthermore, analyses of clinical trials reported an abnormal vaginal bleeding in women of reproductive age treated with DOACs. This study aimed at comparing the risk of bleeding in an inception cohort of VTE women and men included in a prospective observational registry. Methods: Baseline characteristics and bleeding events occurring during anticoagulation in patients of both sexes, included in the START-Register after a first VTE, were analyzed. Results: In all, 1298 women were compared with 1290 men. Women were older and more often had renal diseases; their index events were often provoked (often by hormonal contraception and pregnancy), and more frequently presented as isolated pulmonary embolism (PE). The rate of bleeding was similar in women (2.9% patient-years) and men (2.1% patient-years), though it was higher when uterine bleeds were included (3.5% patient-years, p = 0.0141). More bleeds occurred in VKA- than DOAC-treated patients (6.4% versus 2.6%, respectively; p = 0.0013). At multivariate analysis, age ⩾ 75 years was associated with higher prevalence of bleeds. Conclusion: The occurrence of bleeding was not different between women and men during anticoagulation after VTE. Only after inclusion of vaginal/uterine bleeds, the rate of bleeding was higher in women. The incidence of bleeding was higher in women treated with VKAs. Plain Language Summary: The risk of bleeding in women anticoagulated for deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism is not higher than that in men, except for vaginal bleeding Background: The occurrence of a venous thromboembolic event (VTE, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) necessarily requires a period of at least 3–6 months of treatment with anticoagulant drugs [either vitamin k antagonists (VKA) or, more recently, direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs)]. Anticoagulation therapy, however, is associated with a risk of bleeding that is influenced by several factors. Sex is one of these factors as some authors have hypothesized that women are at higher risk than men. Furthermore, some studies have recently found more vaginal bleeding in VTE women treated with a DOAC compared with those who received VKAs. Methods: The present study aimed to compare the frequency of bleeds occurring in women and in men who were treated with DOACs or VKAs for a first VTE event and followed in real-life conditions. Since the beginning of their anticoagulant treatment, the patients were included in a prospective, multicenter, observational registry (the START-Register), and bleeding events were recorded. Results: A total of 1298 women were compared with 1290 men. Women were older and more often were affected by renal diseases; their VTE events were often associated with risk factors (especially hormonal contraception and pregnancy) and presented as isolated pulmonary embolism. The rate of all bleeding events (including major, non-major but clinically relevant, and minor bleeds) was higher in women (3.5% patient-years) than in men (2.1% patient-years, p = 0.0141); however, the difference was no longer statistically significant after exclusion of uterine bleeds (2.9% patient years). More bleeding occurred in women receiving VKA as anticoagulant drug compared with those treated with a DOAC (6.4% versus 2.6%, respectively; p = 0.0013). At multivariate analysis, age ⩾ 75 years was associated with higher prevalence of bleeds. Conclusion: In conclusion, we found that in real-life conditions, the rate of bleeding events occurring during anticoagulation after a VTE episode is not higher in women than in men. Only after inclusion of vaginal bleeds, the rate of bleeding was higher in women. More bleeds (including vaginal bleeding) occurred in women treated with VKA than DOACs.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211012592
Background: Anticholinergic medications are associated with adverse outcomes in older adults and should be prescribed cautiously. We describe the Anticholinergic Risk Scale (ARS) scores of older inpatients and associations with outcomes. Methods: We included all emergency, first admissions of adults ⩾65 years old admitted to one hospital over 4 years. Demographics, discharge specialty, dementia/history of cognitive concern, illness acuity and medications were retrieved from electronic records. ARS scores were calculated as the sum of anticholinergic potential for each medication (0 = limited/none; 1 = moderate; 2 = strong and 3 = very strong). We categorised patients based on admission ARS score [ARS = 0 (reference); ARS = 1; ARS = 2; ARS ⩾ 3] and change in ARS score from admission to discharge [admission and discharge ARS = 0 (reference); same; decreased; increased]. We described anticholinergic prescribing patterns by discharge specialty and explored multivariable associations between ARS score categories and mortality using logistic regression [odds ratios (ORs), 95% confidence intervals (CIs)]. Results: From 33,360 patients, 10,183 (31%) were prescribed an anticholinergic medication on admission. Mean admission ARS scores were: Cardiology and Stroke = 0.56; General Medicine = 0.78; Geriatric Medicine = 0.83; Other medicine = 0.81; Trauma and Orthopaedics = 0.66; Other Surgery = 0.65. Mean ARS did not increase from admission to discharge in any specialty but reductions varied significantly, from 4.6% (Other Surgery) to 27.7% (Geriatric Medicine) ( p < 0.001). The odds of both 30-day inpatient and 30-day post-discharge mortality increased with admission ARS = 1 (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.01–1.44 and OR = 1.44, 1.18–1.74) but not with ARS = 2 or ARS ⩾ 3. The odds of 30-day post-discharge mortality were higher in all ARS change categories, relative to no anticholinergic exposure (same: OR = 1.45, 1.21–1.74, decreased: OR = 1.27, 1.01–1.57, increased: OR = 2.48, 1.98–3.08). Conclusion: The inconsistent dose–response associations with mortality may be due to confounding and measurement error which may be addressed by a prospective trial. Definitive evidence for this prevalent modifiable risk factor is required to support clinician behaviour-change, thus reducing variation in anticholinergic deprescribing by inpatient speciality. Plain language summary We describe how commonly medicines which block the chemical acetylcholine are prescribed to older adults admitted to hospital as an emergency and explore links between these medicines and death during or soon after hospital admission Backgroud: Medicines which block the chemical acetylcholine are commonly prescribed to treat symptoms such as itch and difficulty sleeping or to treat medical conditions such as depression. However, some studies in older adults have found potential links between these medicines and confusion and falls. Therefore, doctors are recommended to prescribe these drugs cautiously in adults aged 65 years and over. Methods: In our paper we use data collected as part of routine medical care at one university hospital to describe how often these medicines are prescribed in a large sample of older adults admitted to hospital as an emergency. We look at the medicines patients are prescribed on admission to the hospital and also when they are later discharged. Results: We find that these medicines are frequently prescribed. We also find that, in general, patients are prescribed fewer of these potentially harmful medicines on hospital discharge compared with hospital admission. This suggests that clinicians are aware of advice to prescribe acetylcholine blocking medicines cautiously and they are more often stopped in hospital than started. However, we find a lot of variation in practice depending on which hospital specialty was caring for the patient during their inpatient stay. We also find potential links with these medicines and death during the admission or soon after hospital discharge, but these potential links are not always consistent. Conclusion: Further study is needed to fully understand links between medicines that block acetylcholine and late life health. This will be important to reduce variation in prescribing practices.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211021230
Background: Hiccups are usually benign and self-limiting, but can sometimes be persistent. If left untreated, they can provoke severe discomfort, and even death. Hiccups can be idiopathic, organic, psychogenic, and caused by drugs. Although some case reports have suggested a possible association between tramadol and hiccups, to our knowledge, no study has analyzed this possible relationship. The aim of this study was to analyze whether a disproportionate number of cases of hiccups are reported for tramadol in the EudraVigilance database. Methods: A case–noncase study was conducted to assess the association between hiccups and tramadol, calculating reporting odds ratios (RORs) from 1 January 1995 to 11 September 2020. Cases were selected using the preferred term ‘Hiccups’. The noncases used as controls were all other adverse drug reaction reports recorded in EudraVigilance during the same period. Exposure was defined as exposure to tramadol among cases and noncases. To reduce the risk of confounding by indication, the RORs for tramadol compared with other opioids were obtained. Additionally, we performed a confirmatory analysis in the World Health Organization pharmacovigilance database, VigiBase®. Results: There were 3089 cases of hiccups in the 7,213,623 reports. Tramadol was involved in 50 cases. The ROR for tramadol exposure was 3.35 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.53–4.43]. This association persisted when comparing tramadol with other opioids; ROR: 2.13 (95% CI 1.52–2.99). Disproportionality was also observed in VigiBase®: ROR 1.69 (95% CI 1.47–1.93). Conclusion: Our study confirms, for the first time, a possible signal for a tramadol–hiccups association. Nevertheless, observational analytical studies are needed to confirm these results Plain Language Summary Evaluation of the relationship between the tramadol and the risk of hiccups Introduction: Hiccups are sudden involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. This involuntary contraction causes the vocal cords to close very briefly, which produces the characteristic sound of a hiccup. Hiccups are usually benign and self-limiting, but can sometimes be persistent. If left untreated, they can provoke severe discomfort, depression, disability, and in the most extreme cases, even death. Drugs are a rare cause of hiccups. Methods: This study investigated the possible association between tramadol and hiccups (an unmentioned adverse drug reaction in the Summary of Product Characteristics) in the European pharmacovigilance database (EudraVigilance) and a confirming analysis in the World Health Organization pharmacovigilance database (VigiBase). Results: Our analysis shows that hiccups is relatively more frequently reported in association with tramadol than with other medicinal products, with EudraVigilance and VigiBase confirming this association. Conclusion: Tramadol is an opioid analgesic indicated, alone or in combination with dexketoprofen or paracetamol for pain with various causes, so healthcare professionals and patients should be aware of this possible association.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211004745
Background: Along with the increasing use of immune checkpoint inhibitors comes a surge in immune-related toxicity. Here, we review the currently available data regarding neurological immune adverse events, and more specifically aseptic meningitis and encephalitis, and present treatment and diagnostic recommendations. Furthermore, we present five cases of immunotherapy-induced aseptic meningitis and encephalitis treated at our institution. Recent findings: Neurological immune-related adverse events, including aseptic meningitis and encephalitis, secondary to checkpoint inhibitors are a rare but complex and clinically relevant entity, comprising a wide range of diseases, most often presenting with symptoms with a wide range of differential diagnoses. Our case-series highlights the challenges of such entities and the importance of properly identifying and managing aseptic meningitis and encephalitis. Summary: Checkpoint inhibitor-induced meningoencephalitis warrants prompt investigations and treatment. Properly diagnosing aseptic meningitis, encephalitis, or mixed presentations may guide the treatment decision, as highlighted by our case-series. After rapid exclusion of alternative diagnoses, urgent corticosteroids are the therapeutic backbone but this could change in favour of highly specific cytokine-directed treatment options. Plain language summary Aseptic meningitis and encephalitis with immune checkpoint inhibitors: a single centre case-series and review of the literature Over the course of the past decade, checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized cancer care. With their favourable toxicity profile and potential for durable and deep responses, they have become ubiquitous across the field of oncology. Furthermore, combination checkpoint inhibitors are also gaining ground, with increased efficacy and, unfortunately, immune-related toxicity. While there are guidelines based on extensive clinical experience for frequent adverse events, uncommon entities are less readily identified and treated. Neurological immune-related adverse events secondary to checkpoint inhibitors are a rare but complex entity, comprising a wide range of diseases, most often presenting with aspecific symptoms. In this paper, we discuss a single institution case-series of patients with autoimmune aseptic meningitis and encephalitis, and we perform a narrative literature review on this subject. We conclude with our treatment recommendations based on available evidence.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211038436
The collection and assessment of individual case safety reports (ICSRs) is important to detect unknown adverse drug reactions particularly in the first decade after approval of new chemical entities. However, regulations require that these activities are routinely undertaken for all medicinal products, including older medicines such as generic medicinal products with a well-established safety profile. For the latter, the risk management plans no longer contain important risks, considered important safety concerns, on the basis that routine pharmacovigilance activity would not allow their further characterisation. Society assumes that unexpected adverse reactions causally related to pharmacological activity are very unlikely to be detected for such well-established medicines, but important risks can still occur. For these products, a change in the safety profile which is brand or source specific and usually local in nature, associated with failures with the adequate control of quality of manufacturing or distribution are important safety issues. These may be the consequence of manufacturing and pharmacovigilance quality systems that are not fully integrated over the product life cycle (e.g. inadequate control of quality defects affecting one or multiple batches; inadequate impact assessment of change/variation of manufacturing, quality control testing, storage and distribution processes; inadequate control over the distribution channels including the introduction of counterfeit or falsified products into the supply chain). Drug safety hazards caused by the above-mentioned issues have been identified with different products and formulations, from small molecules to complex molecules such as biological products extracted from animal sources, biosimilars and advanced therapy medicinal products. The various phases of the drug manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceutical products require inputs from pharmacovigilance to assess any effects of quality-related issues and to identify proportionate risk minimisation measures that often have design implications for a medicine which requires a close link between proactive vigilance and good manufacturing practice. To illustrate our argument for closer organisational integration, some examples of drug safety hazards originating from quality, manufacturing and distribution issues are discussed. Plain language summary Monitoring the manufacturing and quality of medicines: the fundamental task of pharmacovigilance Pharmacovigilance is the science relating to the collection, detection, assessment, monitoring, and prevention of adverse reactions with pharmaceutical products. The collection and assessment of adverse reactions are particularly important in the first decade after marketing authorisation of a drug as the information gathered in this period could help, for example, to identify complications from its use which were unknown before its commercialization. However, when it comes to medicines that have been on the market for a long time there is general acceptance that their safety profile is already well-established and unknown adverse reactions unlikely to occur. Nevertheless, even older medicines, such as generic drugs, can generate new risks. For these drugs a change in the safety profile could be the result of inadequate control of their quality, manufacturing and distribution systems. To overcome such an obstacle, it is necessary to fully integrate manufacturing and pharmacovigilance quality systems in the medicine life-cycle. This could help detect safety hazards and prevent the development of new complications which may arise due to the poor quality of a drug. Pharmacovigilance activities should indeed be included in all phases of the drugs’ manufacturing and distribution process, regardless of their chemical complexity to detect quality-related matters in good time and reduce the risk of safety concerns to a minimum.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211030371
Background and aims: Inappropriate medication prescription is highly prevalent in older adults and is associated with adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study was to examine the associations between potentially inappropriate medications (PIMS) and potential prescribing omissions with physical function in older adults situated in diverse environments. Methods: A systematic search was completed using the following databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, EMBASE and COCHRANE. Results were extracted from the included studies. Results: In total, 55 studies reported on 2,767,594 participants with a mean age of 77.1 years (63.5% women). Study designs comprised 26 retrospective cohort studies, 21 prospective cohort studies and 8 cross-sectional studies. Inappropriate medications in community and hospital settings were significantly associated with higher risk of falls (21 out of 30 studies), higher risk of fractures (7 out of 9 studies), impaired activities of daily living (ADL; 8 out of 10 studies) and impaired instrumental ADL (IADL) score (4 out of 6 studies). Five out of seven studies also showed that PIMs were associated with poorer physical performance comprising the Timed Up and Go test, walking speed, grip strength, time to functional recovery, functional independence and scale of functioning. Many medication classes were implicated as PIMs in falls, fractures and impairment in physical performance including antipsychotic, sedative, anti-anxiety, anticholinergic, antidiabetic, opioid and antihypertensive medications. For patients not receiving musculoskeletal medications, such as calcium, vitamin D and bisphosphonates, older adults were found to be at risk of a hospital admission for a fall or fracture. Conclusion: Inappropriate medication prescriptions are associated with impaired physical function across longitudinal and cross-sectional studies in older adults situated in diverse settings. It is important to support older people to reduce their use of inappropriate medications and prevent prescribing omissions. Plain language summary Inappropriate medications and physical function Background and aims: The use of inappropriate medications is very common in older adults and is associated with harmful health problems. The aim was to examine associations between potentially inappropriate medications and potential prescribing omissions with physical function in older adults situated in diverse environments. Methods: Library databases were examined for possible studies to include and a systematic search was completed. Relevant information was obtained from the included studies. Results: In total, 55 studies reported on 2,767,594 participants who were an average age of 77.1 years and about 6 out of 10 were women. A variety of different study designs were used. Inappropriate medication prescriptions in community and hospital settings were significantly associated with higher risk of falls (21 out of 30 studies), higher risk of fractures (7 out of 9 studies), problems with activities of daily living (ADL), such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, walking and toileting (8 out of 10 studies) and problems with instrumental ADL such as managing medications, house cleaning and shopping (4 out of 6 studies). Five out of seven studies also showed that inappropriate medications were associated with poorer physical performance involving the Timed Up and Go test, walking speed, grip strength, time to functional recovery, functional independence and scale of functioning. Many types of medication classes were shown to be associated with a risk of falls, fractures and problems with physical performance. Omitted medications were also associated with falls and fractures. Conclusion: Inappropriate medication prescriptions are associated with problems relating to physical function. It is important to support older people to reduce their use of inappropriate medications and prevent prescribing omissions.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211052344
Older patients from nursing homes are commonly exposed to polypharmacy before a hospital admission. Deprescribing has been promoted as a solution to this problem, though systematic reviews have not found benefit. The aim of this study was to understand if in-hospital deprescribing of certain classes of medications is associated with certain benefits or risks. We conducted a prospective, multicentre, cohort study in 239 medical inpatients ⩾75 years (mean age 87.4 years) who were exposed to polypharmacy (⩾5 medications) prior to admission and discharged to a nursing home for permanent placement. Patients were categorised by whether deprescribing occurred, mortality and readmissions were assessed 30 and 90 days after hospital discharge. The EQ-5D-5 L health survey assessed changes in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) at 90 days, with comparison to EQ-5D-5 L results at day 30. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to investigate associations between patterns of prescribed and deprescribed medications and mortality. Patients for whom deprescribing occurred had a higher Charlson Index; there were no differences between the groups in principal diagnosis, total or Beers list number of medications on admission. The number of Beers list medications increased in both groups before discharge. Patients who had medications deprescribed had nonsignificantly greater odds of dying within 90 days [odds ration (OR) = 3.23 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.68, 14.92; p = 0.136]. Deprescribing of certain classes was associated with higher 90-day mortality: antihypertensives (OR = 2.27, 95% CI: 1.004, 5; p = 0.049) and statins (OR = 5, 95% CI: 1.61, 14.28; p = 0.005). Readmissions and 1-year mortality rates were similar. There was no deterioration in HRQOL when medications were deprescribed. LCA showed that patients with the least medication changes had the lowest mortality. Deprescribing certain classes of medications during hospitalisation was associated with worse mortality, but not readmissions or overall HRQOL. Larger controlled deprescribing studies targeting specific medications are warranted to further investigate these findings. This study was registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN1 2616001336471. Background: When an older person living in a nursing home is admitted to hospital, does stopping long-term medications help them? Many older people from nursing homes take a large number of medications each day to treat symptoms and prevent adverse events. “Polypharmacy” is a term used to describe taking multiple long-term medications, and it is associated with many negative outcomes such as increased number of falls, cognitive decline, hospital readmission, even death. Deprescribing of nonessential medications – whether stopping or reducing the dose – is promoted as good hospital practice and is assumed to help older frail people live longer and feel better. However, we often don’t fully understand what is and is not essential. We wanted to better understand the effect of deprescribing long-term medications for older frail patients during an unplanned hospital admission as they were going to a nursing home to live. Methods: While admitted to hospital, medications are often reviewed by a clinical pharmacist and specialist physician. Sometimes medications are ceased; sometimes they are not. This gave us the opportunity to study two groups of older frail people from nursing homes: those who had regular, long-term medications ceased or reduced and those who did not. We wanted to see if one group did better. For example, did they feel worse if we stopped certain medications? Did they suffer other bad events compared with those patients for whom no medications were ceased? Were they readmitted to hospital earlier or more often? Results and conclusion: Despite the assumption that stopping medications for this type of patient is good practice, we found no benefit. We were also surprised to find stopping or reducing certain drug classes (e.g. antihypertensives and cholesterol-lowering drugs) was associated with greater mortality. Larger, randomised studies will better answer these important questions.
Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, Volume 12; https://doi.org/10.1177/20420986211027451
Background Medication harm can lead to hospital admission, prolonged hospital stay and poor patient outcomes. Reducing medication harm is a priority for healthcare organisations worldwide. Recent Australian studies demonstrate cardiovascular (CV) medications are a leading cause of harm. However, they appear to receive less recognition as ‘high risk’ medications compared with those classified by the medication safety acronym, ‘APINCH’ (antimicrobials, potassium, insulin, narcotics, chemotherapeutics, heparin). Our aim was to determine the scale and type of medication harm caused by CV medications in healthcare. Methods A narrative review of adult (>16 years) medication harm literature identified from PubMed and CINAHL databases was undertaken. Studies with the primary outcome of measuring the incidence of medication harm were included. Harm caused by CV medications was described and ranked against other medication classes at four key stages of a patient’s healthcare journey. Where specified, the implicated medications and type of harm were investigated. Results A total of 75 studies were identified, including seven systematic reviews and three meta-analyses, with most focussing on harm causing hospital admission. CV medications were responsible for approximately 20% of medication harm; however, this proportion increased to 50% in older populations. CV medications were consistently ranked in the top five medication categories causing harm and were often listed as the leading cause. Conclusion CV medications are a leading cause of medication harm, particularly in older adults, and should be the focus of harm mitigation strategies. A practical approach to generate awareness among health professionals is to incorporate ‘C’ (for CV medications) into the ‘APINCH’ acronym. Plain language summary Patient harm from cardiovascular medications Background • Harm from medications can cause poor patient outcomes. • Certain medications have been identified as ‘high risk’ and are known to cause high rates of harm. • ‘High risk’ medications are included in medication guidelines used by health professionals. • Cardiovascular medications (e.g. blood pressure and cholesterol medications) are important and have many benefits. • Recent studies have found cardiovascular medications to cause high rates of harm. • Cardiovascular medication harm is often under-recognised in clinical practice. • Some guidelines do not consider cardiovascular medications to be ‘high risk’. Method • This review investigated the extent of harm caused by cardiovascular medications in adults across four healthcare settings: (1) at the time of hospital admission; (2) during hospital admission; (3) after hospital; and (4) readmission to hospital. • Harm caused by cardiovascular medications was ranked against other medication classes. • We investigated the type of cardiovascular medications to cause harm and the type of harm caused. Results • Seventy-five studies were reviewed across 41 countries. • Cardiovascular medications were ranked within the top five medications to cause harm. • Cardiovascular medications were a leading cause of harm in each healthcare setting investigated. • Harm caused by cardiovascular medications was common in older adults (>65 years). • Cardiovascular medications often caused preventable harm. • Medications to treat high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms were the most common causes of harm. • We reported kidney injury, electrolyte changes and low blood pressure as common types of harm. Conclusion • Increased focus on cardiovascular medications in clinical practice is needed. • Health professionals need to carefully prescribe and frequently review cardiovascular medications, especially in older adults. • Patient and health professional discussions should be based on both the benefits and harms of cardiovascular medications. • Cardiovascular medications should be included in all ‘high risk’ medication guidelines.