Decongestant use and the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke: a case-crossover study

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 18;11(1):4160. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83718-8.


Pharmacovigilance reports of cerebral and cardiovascular events in those who use decongestants have triggered alerts related to their use. We aimed to assess the risk of stroke and myocardial infarction (MI) associated with the use of decongestants. We conducted a nested case-crossover study of patients with incident stroke and MI identified in France between 2013 and 2016 in two systematic disease registries. Decongestant use in the three weeks preceding the event was assessed using a structured telephone interview. Conditional logistic multivariable models were used to estimate the odds of incident MI and stroke, also accounting for transient risk factors and comparing week 1 (index at-risk time window, immediately preceding the event) to week 3 (reference). Time-invariant risk factors were controlled by design. In total, 1394 patients with MI and 1403 patients with stroke, mainly 70 years old or younger, were interviewed, including 3.2% who used decongestants during the three weeks prior to the event (1.0% definite exposure in the index at-risk time window, 1.1% in the referent time window; adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 0.78; 95%CI, 0.43-1.42). Secondary analysis yielded similar results for individual events (MI/stroke). We observed no increased risk of MI or stroke for patients 70 years of age and younger without previous MI or stroke who used decongestants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / chemically induced*
  • Nasal Decongestants / adverse effects*
  • Nasal Decongestants / therapeutic use*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / chemically induced*
  • Time Factors


  • Nasal Decongestants