Risk of incident circulatory disease in patients treated for differentiated thyroid carcinoma with no history of cardiovascular disease

CONTEXT: 

The incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) is increasing, yet the prognosis is favourable and long-term survival is expected. Exogenous TSH suppression has been used for many years to prevent DTC recurrence and may be associated with increased risks of circulatory diseases.

DESIGN: 

Risks of circulatory disease in patients treated for DTC were compared to randomly matched patients without DTC (controls) up to a 1:5 ratio using age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and smoking as the matching parameters in a population-based, open cohort study using The Health Improvement Network.

PATIENTS: 

A total of 3009 patients treated for DTC with no pre-existing cardiovascular disease were identified and matched to 11 303 controls, followed up to median of 5 years.

RESULTS: 

A total of 1259 incident circulatory events were recorded during the observation period. No difference in the risk of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) (adjusted hazards ratio [aHR]: 1.04, 95% CI: 0.80-1.36) or heart failure (HF) (aHR: 1.27, 95% CI: 0.89-1.81) was detected. The risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke was significantly higher in patients with DTC (aHR: 1.71, 95% CI: 1.36-2.15 and aHR: 1.34, 95% CI: 1.05-1.72, respectively). In a sensitivity analysis limited to newly diagnosed patients with DTC, only the risk of AF was consistently elevated (aHR: 1.86, 95% CI: 1.33-2.60).

CONCLUSIONS: 

The increased risk of AF in patients who have undergone treatment for DTC but without pre-existing CVD may warrant periodic screening for this arrhythmia. Whereas no evidence of increased risk of IHD or HF was observed, the increased risk of stroke/TIA warrants further investigation.