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Tasigna Cardiac Side Effects & Complications

Select Justice
December 5, 2021

Tasigna (nilotinib) is a commonly prescribed chemotherapy drug used to treat leukemia. Many people diagnosed with leukemia have been prescribed Tasigna, only to develop cardiac side effects that can quickly turn into life-threatening complications. 

Here, we’ll explore the cardiac side effects related to Tasigna use, as well as the complications that can develop from said side effects. 

Cardiac Side Effects of Tasigna

Many people who have used Tasigna to treat leukemia have suffered from cardiac side effects. Understandably, some of the people who used Tasigna are angry because the company did not fully inform them of the side effects and complications associated with the drug. Cardiac side effects associated with Tasigna use include QTc prolongation, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.

QTc Prolongation

QTc prolongation occurs when the heart contracts and relaxes at longer intervals than usual. This type of irregular heartbeat is related to Tasigna use. Clinical studies show that up to 10% of adults who take Tasigna experience QTc prolongation, and up to 25% of children who take Tasigna experience the condition. Most people who experience QTc prolongation never experience symptoms, and the condition is detected at a doctor’s appointment. 

The Food & Drug Administration required Novartis, the company that sells Tasigna, to include a black box warning on the drug, informing patients of the risk of QTc prolongation. A black box morning is the most serious warning the FDA can require a company to include on their drug packaging. 


In many people, plaque made of cholesterol, fats, and other substances builds up in the arteries over time. Tasigna accelerates this effect, creating blockages in the heart and arteries much faster than normal. 

For most people, there are no symptoms of atherosclerosis until the condition becomes severe and life-threatening. Treatment of atherosclerosis may include lifestyle changes (such as a low-fat diet and moderate exercise), medication, and in severe cases, surgery. Atherosclerosis that goes undetected or untreated can lead to death.



Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when the force that blood exerts on the arteries becomes too high. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of high blood pressure, including the use of certain medications (like Tasigna) and lifestyle factors (including high stress levels, a diet high in sodium, and a lack of exercise). 

Many people who have high blood pressure do not have any symptoms and are unaware of their condition. People who do exhibit symptoms may experience nosebleeds and headaches. Symptoms typically do not appear until a person’s blood pressure level is life-threatening. 

Complications Related To Side Effects Of Tasigna 

Side effects from Tasigna use can quickly develop into serious, life-threatening complications. Tasigna is especially dangerous because many of the side effects that can turn deadly show no symptoms until the patient’s condition has deteriorated to a deadly degree. Potential complications related to cardiac side effects of Tasigna use include enlarged left heart, heart disease, peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, and sudden death.

Enlarged Left Heart

Some people who have used Tasigna for leukemia treatment have developed an enlarged left heart. Untreated hypertension can lead to an enlarged left heart. The left ventricle of the heart is responsible for pumping blood to the body. When the left ventricle of the heart becomes enlarged, it loses the elasticity that allows it to easily pump blood. Eventually, the heart may fail to pump blood effectively. 

In most people, an enlarged left heart develops over time and does not show symptoms until the condition is serious. An enlarged left heart can have serious consequences, including reduced cardiac blood supply, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, ischemic heart disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac arrest. 

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

The most common type of heart disease, coronary artery disease occurs when plaque builds up and interferes with blood flow to the heart. For some people, a heart attack is the first symptom of CAD. Other symptoms of CAD can include chest pain and an irregular heartbeat. 

Since CAD can progress to a heart attack, it’s important that people who are taking Tasigna regularly see their physician for cardiac tests, even if they aren’t experiencing any noticeable symptoms. While CAD can be deadly, there are some steps that can be taken to alleviate the condition, including changing medications, making lifestyle changes, and surgeries that can help improve cardiac blood flow. 

Heart Attack

Nilotinib Side Effects Heart Attack
Nilotinib Side Effects - Heart Attack

A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is blocked. Often, the blockage that stops blood flow to the heart during a heart attack is made of fat and cholesterol that has built up in the arteries that normally allow blood to flow to the heart. Other times, plaque buildup ruptures and forms a blood clot that stops the flow of blood to the heart. 

Different people experience heart attacks in different ways. Some may experience pressure, tightness, and pain in the chest and arms, while others may have no symptoms at all. Lightheadedness, cold sweats, fatigue, and nausea can also be signs of a heart attack. It’s important that people who are taking Tasigna and other medications that increase the risk of a heart attack see their doctor right away if they think they may be experiencing signs of a cardiac event. 

Sudden Death

All of the cardiac issues that can be caused by Tasigna, as well as the side effect QTc, can result in sudden death. While careful monitoring may help people using Tasigna become aware of cardiac issues, often, cardiac issues caused by Tasigna come on quickly. People who seem to be responding well to leukemia treatment like Tasigna may suddenly pass away not due to cancer, but due to complications from side effects of cancer treatment. 

If You Or A Loved One Have Suffered Side Effects Or Complications Related To Tasigna Use, You’re Not Alone. 

Many people who used Tasigna to treat leukemia developed serious cardiac side effects and complications. If you or a loved one took Tasigna and developed cardiac issues, it’s possible that you have a viable lawsuit that could provide you with the compensation you deserve. We’re happy to review your information to let you know if you have a case. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation. 

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