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Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Oct 15;168(8):966-73. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn191. Epub 2008 Aug 27.

Use of a prescribed ephedrine/caffeine combination and the risk of serious cardiovascular events: a registry-based case-crossover study.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, DK 5000 Odense C, Denmark.


Ephedrine and herbal ephedra preparations have been shown to induce a small-to-moderate weight loss. Owing to reports on serious cardiovascular events, they were banned from the US market in 2004. There have been no large controlled studies on the possible association between prescribed ephedrine/caffeine and cardiovascular events in general. The authors linked data from four different sources within Statistics Denmark, using data on 257,364 users of prescribed ephedrine/caffeine for the period 1995-2002. The data were analyzed using a case-crossover technique with a composite endpoint: death outside of a hospital, myocardial infarction, or stroke. To account for effects of chronic exposure and effects in naïve users, the authors performed a secondary case-control study nested within the cohort of ephedrine/caffeine ever users. Among 2,316 case subjects, 282 (12.2%) were current users of ephedrine/caffeine. The case-crossover analysis yielded an odds ratio of 0.84 (95% confidence interval: 0.71, 1.00); after adjustment for trends in ephedrine/caffeine use, it was 0.95 (95% confidence interval: 0.79, 1.16). Subgroup analyses revealed no strata with significantly elevated risk. In the case-control substudy, there was no increased risk among naïve users or users with large cumulative doses. Prescribed ephedrine/caffeine was not associated with a substantially increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes in this study.

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