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Al-Judaibi B
Chande N
Gregor JC


Tegaserod, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation



Tegaserod, a 5-HT4 agonist, is effective for treating irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation. However, sales of this drug were recently suspended due to concerns about a higher rate of cardiovascular events in patients receiving tegaserod over placebo in clinical trials. Our aim was to review patients in our practice prescribed tegaserod to determine if any of them had suffered a cardiovascular event or other significant adverse effects while on this therapy. Additionally, we attempted to determine the efficacy of tegaserod in clinical practice.



Patients with irritable bowel syndrome or chronic constipation in our practice prescribed tegaserod were identified through a search of billing codes and charts reviews. These patients were contacted and questioned about symptoms of cardiovascular events or other adverse events while on tegaserod. The efficacy of this drug was determined by a symptom scale during and after stopping tegaserod.



Sufficient data for analysis was retrieved for 51 of 67 patients prescribed tegaserod. Of these, 37 patients (72.5%) experience no adverse events and 14 patients (27.4%) experienced at least one adverse event, including 6 patients (11.8%) with major adverse events (2 patients (3.9%) with atypical chest pain; 4 patients (7.8%) with syncope; and 2 patients (3.9%) who died. One patient died from advanced pancreatic cancer. The other, who had multiple cardiovascular risk factors as well as a previous myocardial infarction, suffered a cardiac arrest 2 days postoperatively following a below knee amputation, and had actually been off tegaserod for 7 days after hospital admission. Patients graded the severity of both abdominal pain and constipation as worse after stopping therapy compared to during therapy (p<0.0002 and p<0.0001, respectively).



The risk of cardiovascular events during tegaserod therapy may be increased in patients with other risk factors. However, this drug is effective for treating irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation, and might be used in a select patient population with severe symptoms but without other risk factors for cardiovascular events.

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