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Statin treatment linked to lower risk of cancer among heart failure patients

Written by | 3 Aug 2021 | Cardiology

Treatment with statins of patients with heart failure is linked to a reduced risk of cancer, researchers reported on June 23, 2021 in the European Heart Journal.

Lead investigator Kai-Hang Yiu, MD, Ph.D, Clinical Associate Professor in Cardiology at The University of Hong Kong, said, “Ten years after starting statins, deaths from cancer were 3.8% among heart failure patients taking statins and 5.2% among non-users – a reduction in the absolute risk of death of 1.4%. The reduction in the absolute risk of developing cancer after six years on statins was 22% lower compared to those who received only between three months and two years of statins.”

As background, the authors noted that prior studies have suggested that heart failure patients have an increased risk of cancer. The reasons are undertermined. Little research has been conducted on the association between statin use and the cancer risk of in patients with heart failure. The new study is the largest study to date.

The investigators acquired registry data on 87,102 patients in Hong Kong who had been admitted to a hospital with heart failure between 2003 and 2015.

The patients were tracked until they were diagnosed with cancer, died or until the end of 2018, whichever came first.

Potential subjects were excluded from the study if they had a history of cancer or had been diagnosed or died from cancer within 90 days of the first diagnosis of heart failure. They were also excluded if they had been diagnosed with HIV or if they had taken statins for fewer than 90 days.

This left 36,176 statin-using subjects, and 50,926 non-users for the new analysis.

Mean age was 76.5, and 47.8% of the subjects were male.

Over a median follow-up of 4.1 years, 11, 052 (12.7%) of the subjects were diagnosed with cancer. Statin use (compared to none) was associated with a 16% lower risk of cancer incidence.

Ten year cancer-related mortality was 3.8% among statin users and 5.2% among nonusers.

The investigators also reported that death from any cause was lower among statin users compared to non-users. At ten years, 60.5% (21,886) of statin users had died compared with 78.8% (40,130) of the non-statin users, a 38% difference between the cohorts in mortality from any cause.

Yiu added, “Heart failure is a growing disease globally and deaths due to other causes unrelated to the heart and blood vessels are of concern. Our findings should raise doctors’ awareness of the increasing cancer incidence among heart failure patients and encourage them to pay extra attention to non-cardiovascular-related outcomes. Moreover, our study highlights the relationship between heart failure and cancer development, and provides important information regarding the possibility of reducing cancer incidence and related deaths by using statins in these patients.”

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