x

Health

Statins May Protect Older Women with Breast Cancer from Chemo-Induced Heart Damage

Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs during chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer may help protect older women from heart damage, new research shows.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found women in their late 60s and 70s who took statins while receiving chemotherapy medicines known as anthracyclines were half as likely to require emergency department visits or hospitalization for heart failure in the five years following cancer treatment, compared to those who didn't take statins.

"This study does not conclusively prove statins are protective," the study's lead researcher Dr. Husam Abdel-Qadir said in a news release. He is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto's Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. However, it "builds on the body of evidence suggesting that they may have benefits."

Anthracycline chemotherapy is effective for treating breast cancer in its early stages, but also can increase a woman's risk for heart damage. Likewise, trastuzumab, a cancer medication often used during or following anthracycline chemotherapy for HER2-positive breast cancer, has been shown to increase the risk for heart failure.

The new study analyzed data for Canadian women ages 66 and older who had newly diagnosed, early-stage breast cancer and who were treated with anthracycline chemotherapy and/or trastuzumab between 2007 and 2017. None of the women had previously experienced heart failure, but all were at high risk for heart problems because of their age.

Women taking statins prior to and during their cancer treatments were compared with those not taking statins. Researchers then analyzed the data to see how many women needed to visit the hospital or emergency room because of heart failure within five years after their cancer treatments.

Among women who received anthracyclines, those taking statins were 55% less likely to be treated at the hospital for heart failure – 1.2% compared with 2.9%.

The study found women who took statins along with trastuzumab also were less likely to require heart failure treatment compared to those who didn't take statins. However, those findings fell short of statistical significance.

Abdel-Qadir said the cancer medications are effective treatments, but "the risk of heart muscle damage has limited their use, particularly in women who are at higher risk for heart problems because of their age or other medical issues."

The researchers said further research is needed to determine whether all women with breast cancer, including younger women and those with low cardiovascular risk, should be prescribed statins when undergoing chemotherapy that can damage the heart.

For now, women with breast cancer who meet the guidelines for taking a statin "should ideally continue taking it throughout their chemotherapy treatment," said Abdel-Qadir, who also is a cardiologist at Women's College Hospital and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto.

"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," he said. "Otherwise, they should focus on measures to optimize their cardiovascular health before, during and after chemotherapy."

If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

American Heart Association News covers heart disease, stroke and related health issues. Not all views expressed in American Heart Association News stories reflect the official position of the American Heart Association.

Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, for individuals, media outlets, and non-commercial education and awareness efforts to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to American Heart Association News.

Other uses, including educational products or services sold for profit, must comply with the American Heart Association's Copyright Permission Guidelines. See full terms of use. These stories may not be used to promote or endorse a commercial product or service.

HEALTH CARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediately.

RELATED

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is launching a wide-ranging inquiry into whether it made the right decisions in battling COVID-19 and how it can better prepare for future pandemics.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Mission…To Tunisia Part 2 – A TNH Documentary by Clelia Charissis (Video)

The coveted exotic beauty of Tunisia is revealed by the 2nd episode of our Mission…To Tunisia – A TNH Documentary.

AL WAKRAH — Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved three penalty kicks in his team's 3-1 win over Japan in a shootout at the World Cup on Monday, securing a return to the quarterfinals for the runner-up in the 2018 tournament.

NICE — French writer Dominique Lapierre, who was celebrated for his novels about the World War II struggle to liberate Paris and depicting a life of hardship in a Kolkata slum, has died.

MOMBASA — Scientists around the world are warning governments who will be gathering in Montreal this week for the United Nations biodiversity summit to not repeat past mistakes and are urging officials to “avoid trade-offs” between people and conservation needs in a report Monday.

TRIPOLIS - Over 200 projects are included in the Comprehensive Development Plan for the Region of the Peloponnese for 2030, totalling 5.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.