A new study presents positive developments for people with heart failure, showing how much they can benefit from the commonly prescribed drug statins. Previous studies had shown that the medication could reduce heart attacks, but this is the first to directly link it with heart failure too.
Results of the Study
The study was conducted by the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, reported at the European Atherosclerosis Society Congress in Glasgow, and published online in the European Heart Journal. Experts reviewed 17 statin trials involving 100,000 patients, to determine the degree to which the drug benefits those with heart failure.
Lead researcher Dr David Preiss said of the study: “Heart failure is disabling, expensive to treat, especially in more advanced stages, and patients have a poor outcome. While it has been assumed that statins reduce the development of heart failure simply because they reduce heart attacks, to our surprise this had not been definitively shown before.
“The results of this meta-analysis clearly show a modest but significant benefit, reducing hospital admission for heart failure by 10 per cent, which is clinically important.”
Use of Statins
Statins are the most commonly prescribed drug in the UK, and are taken by between eight and ten million adults. According to NHS estimates, they save 7,000 lives every year, though there is some concern about possible side effects, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Under current guidance, doctors may prescribe the drugs to anyone who has a 10% risk or higher of having a heart attack in the next decade.
Interestingly, despite the known link between the drug and heart attacks, it’s still not entirely understood why statins provide a benefit for heart failure too. Dr Preiss attempted to explain the possible connection: “It is probable that statins decrease the degree of ischaemia [lack of blood flow] that occurs before a heart attack, leading to a decrease in the number of people with other ischaemic events and reducing the chronic impact on the heart. Further study of the potential mechanism is needed.”