Pfizer, Lilly Antidepressants Linked to Narrowed Arteries in Older Men

Antidepressants may narrow the arteries of middle-aged men, potentially putting them at risk for heart attacks and stroke, researchers said.

A study involving 513 male twins, with an average age of 55, found those who took medications like Forest Laboratories Inc. (FRX)’s Lexapro, Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY)’s Cymbalta or Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Zoloft had thicker blood vessel walls. The increase, a measure of fatty-plaque buildup linked to atherosclerosis, was seen regardless of what type of antidepressant the men were taking.

Arteries naturally thicken with age, and each 10-micron increase is linked to a 1.8 percent higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Men taking antidepressants had a 41-micron thicker lining than their twin brothers who weren’t on medication, making their arteries appear about four years older. The difference was greatest in men who were depressed while taking the drugs, according to the study presented today at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

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