Statins May Help Protect Heart in Women Treated with Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Statins may have a cardioprotective effect in women who were recently treated with chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer, according to a new analysis in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers aiming to study any links between statin exposure during hospital or emergency department visits for heart failure following anthracycline- and/or trastuzumab-containing chemotherapy for breast cancer looked at several administrative health databases in Ontario for heart failure occurrence in women 66 and older. The analysis included 666 statin-discordant pairs of anthracycline-treated women and 390 pairs of trastuzumab-treated women, matched 1:1 using propensity scores.

According to the results, the five-year cumulative incidence of heart failure hospitalizations after anthracyclines was 1.2% in women exposed to statins, and 2.9% in unexposed women (P=0.01). For trastuzumab, the five-year cumulative incidence of heart failure hospitalizations was 2.7% in statin-exposed women compared to 3.7% in those who were not exposed(P=0.09). The cause-specific hazard ratio for statins in the anthracycline-treated women was 0.45 (95% CI, 0.24 to 0.85; P=0.01). For trastuzumab, the ratio was 0.46 (95% CI, 0.20 to 1.07; P=0.07).

“This study does not conclusively prove statins are protective,” lead study author Husam Abdel-Qadir, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, part of the University Health Network in Toronto, said in a press release. “However, this study builds on the body of evidence suggesting that they may have benefits. For women with breast cancer who meet established indications for taking a statin, they should ideally continue taking it throughout their chemotherapy treatment. Women who do not have an indication for a statin should ask their health care team if they can join a clinical trial studying the benefits of statins in protecting against heart muscle damage during chemotherapy.”