Statins during chemo may limit heart damage in breast cancer patients

Women with early breast cancer who received statins, or cholesterol-lowering drugs, during their chemotherapy had a lower risk of heart failure in the five years after their cancer treatment, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association Jan. 6. 

Researchers analyzed data from newly diagnosed breast cancer patients age 66 and over in Ontario who were treated with statins during their chemotherapy treatment between 2007 and 2017. The chemotherapy medicines given were anthracyclines or trastuzumab. Women with a history of heart failure were not included in the study. 

Within the five years after receiving anthracyclines, 1.2 percent of statin-exposed women were hospitalized for heart failure compared to 2.9 percent of women who did not receive statins — a 55 percent reduced risk. The findings indicate that women who took statins with trastuzumab were also less likely to be treated for heart failure compared to those who didn't receive statins, though the trends were not statistically significant. 

"Women who do not have an indication for a statin should ask their healthcare team if they can join a clinical trial studying the benefits of statins in protecting against heart muscle damage during chemotherapy," said Husam Abdel-Qadir, MD, PhD, lead study author. "Otherwise, they should focus on measures to optimise their cardiovascular health before, during and after chemotherapy." 

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