News | Pharmaceuticals | May 26, 2017

Statins Associated With Improved Heart Structure and Function

Cardiac MRI scans reveal benefits occurred above and beyond the cholesterol lowering effect of statins

Statins Associated With Improved Heart Structure and Function

May 26, 2017 — Statins are associated with improved heart structure and function, according to research presented at EuroCMR 2017, May 25-27 in Prague. The research team reported the benefits were above and beyond the cholesterol lowering effect of statins.

“Statins are primarily used to lower cholesterol,” said lead author Nay Aung, M.D., a cardiologist and Wellcome Trust research fellow, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, U.K. “They are highly effective in preventing cardiovascular events in patients who have had a heart attack or are at risk of heart disease.”

He continued: “Statins have other beneficial, non-cholesterol lowering effects. They can improve the function of the blood vessels, reduce inflammation and stabilize fatty plaques in the blood vessels. Studies in mice and small studies in humans have shown that statins also reduce the thickness of heart muscle, but this needed to be confirmed in a larger study.”

This study investigated the association between statins and heart structure and function. The study included 4,622 people without cardiovascular disease from the U.K. Biobank, a large community-based cohort study. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure left and right ventricular volumes and left ventricular mass. Information on statin use was obtained from medical records and a self-reporting questionnaire.

The relationship between statin use and heart structure and function was assessed using a statistical technique called multiple regression, which adjusts for potential confounders that can have an effect on the heart such as ethnicity, gender, age and body mass index (BMI).

Nearly 17 percent of participants were taking statins. Those taking statins were older, had higher BMI and blood pressure, and were more likely to have diabetes and hypertension. “This was not surprising because we prescribe statins to patients at high risk of heart disease and these are all known risk factors,” said Aung.

Patients taking statins had a 2.4 percent lower left ventricular mass and lower left and right ventricular volumes. Aung said: “People using statins were less likely to have a thickened heart muscle (left ventricular hypertrophy) and less likely to have a large heart chamber. Having a thick, large heart is a strong predictor of future heart attack, heart failure or stroke, and taking statins appears to reverse the negative changes in the heart which, in turn, could lower the risk of adverse outcomes.”

“It is important to note that in our study, the people taking statins were at higher risk of having heart problems than those not using statins yet they still had positive heart remodeling compared to the healthier control group,” added Aung.

In terms of how statins might reduce the thickness and volume of the heart, Aung said several studies have demonstrated that statins reduce oxidative stress and dampen the production of growth factors which stimulate cell growth. Statins also increase the production of nitric oxide by the cells lining the blood vessels, leading to vasodilatation, improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and lower stress on the heart, which is less likely to become hypertrophied.

The findings raise the issue of extending statin prescriptions to anyone above the age of 40, but Aung said that was probably not the way to go.

“There are clear guidelines on who should receive statins,” he said. “There is debate about whether we should lower the bar and the question is when do you stop. What we found is that for patients already taking statins, there are beneficial effects beyond cholesterol lowering and that’s a good thing. But instead of a blanket prescription we need to identify people most likely to benefit — i.e. personalized medicine.”

Aung concluded: “A dual approach should be considered to identify people who will benefit most from statins. That means looking at not only clinical risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure, but also genetic (hereditary) factors which can predict individuals’ response to statins. This is an area of growing interest and one that we are also investigating in our lab with our collaborators.”

For more information: www.escardio.org

Related Content

Videos | Cardiac Imaging| December 29, 2017
ITN and DAIC Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the most interesting new medical imaging technologies on the
Siemens Healthineers Introduces Share360 Tailored Service Portfolio
News | Cardiac Imaging| November 10, 2017
To address the specific needs of medical imaging clinical engineering departments nationwide, Siemens Healthineers has...
HeartFlow's FFR-CT (FFRct) analysis software can create a virtual FFR to assess coronary artery disease.

HeartFlow's FFR-CT analysis software uses a computed tomography scan and supercomputing fluid dynamics software to create a noninvasive, virtual FFR map of the entire coronary artery tree to determine the flow-limiting severity of ant lesions. 

News | Cardiac Imaging| November 06, 2017
November 6, 2017 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized a New Technology Ambulatory P
Philips Announces Findings of Patient Experience in Imaging Research
News | Cardiac Imaging| October 24, 2017
Philips recently announced the key findings of its research focused on the patient experience in diagnostic imaging...
ASNC and SNMMI Release Joint Document on Diagnosis, Treatment of Cardiac Sarcoidosis
News | Cardiac Imaging| August 18, 2017
August 18, 2017 — The American Society of...
Houston Methodist Hospital Enters Multi-Year Technology and Research Agreement With Siemens Healthineers
News | Cardiac Imaging| August 17, 2017
Houston Methodist Hospital and Siemens Healthineers have entered into a multi-year agreement to bring cutting-edge...
Videos | Cardiac Imaging| July 18, 2017
Leslee Shaw, Ph.D., director of clinical research and professor of medicine at Emory University, Atlanta, and past-pr

Physicians will need to use a CMS-certified appropriate use criteria (AUC) clinical decision support software that documents the appropriateness of an imaging order to receive full reimbursement for Medicare patients starting Jan. 1, 2018.

Feature | Cardiac Imaging| April 18, 2017 | Dave Fornell
As part of U.S. healthcare reform efforts, starting Jan.
Philips, cardiology solutions, ACC.17, Azurion angiography system, iFR outcomes results, IntelliSpace Cardiovascular
News | Cardiac Imaging| March 24, 2017
At the 2017 American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session & Expo (ACC.17), Philips showcased a broad...
Siemens Healthineers, ACC 2017, syngot CTO Guidance, Compressed Sensing Cardiac Cine
News | Cardiac Imaging| March 16, 2017
During the 66th Annual Scientific Session & Expo of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), March 17-19 in...
Overlay Init