Statin therapy is associated with a lower prevalence and incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in post-menopausal women with coronary artery disease (CAD), according to study findings, reported at the 2008 Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) meeting held in San Francisco last week.
There are a number of treatments to control AF and reduce the risk that it will cause serious health problems, but none are consistently successful and most have unfavorable side effects, unlike relatively low risk statins, according to the researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.
The natural history of AF, incidence of its complications and associated anti-coagulation management differ between women and men. Statin drugs are among the most promising non-antiarrhythmic agents to treat AF, presumably mediated by their effects on inflammation, but their effectiveness in women has not been specifically studied, according to the researchers.
“Women and men are affected by atrial fibrillation differently,” said lead author Cara Pellegrini, MD. “Since past studies have shown benefits of statin therapy in the male population, we wanted to take a closer look at the effectiveness of statin therapy in women with regard to the risk of developing AF.”
The study involved 2,673 post-menopausal women with prior CAD in the Heart and Estrogen-Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) to examine the association between statin use and the prevalence and incidence of AF. After an average follow-up of 4.1 years and adjusting for age, race and other risk factors, the prevalence of AF was 65 percent lower and the incidence of AF was 55 percent lower in patients using statin therapy.
Researchers concluded that statin therapy is associated with a lower prevalence and incidence of AF after adjustment for age and other risk factors in post-menopausal women with CAD.