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21-03-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Long-term AF risk reduction unlikely with statin therapy


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MedWire News: The long-term risk for developing atrial fibrillation (AF) is not reduced by statin therapy, according to results from a large meta-analysis.

However, statins may offer short-term protection against AF development.

Previous studies have suggested that statin therapy prevents the development of AF, but as Kazem Rahimi (University of Oxford, UK) and team highlight, these studies were short in duration and involved highly selected patient populations that "raised questions about the applicability of the findings to much larger populations at risk of AF."

The researchers therefore investigated the effects of statins versus placebo in long, large-scale studies compared with short, population-specific studies. They analyzed the results from 13 short-term trials (n=4414; mean duration 3.6 months) involving cardiac surgery or cardioversion patients only, and compared these with findings from 22 long-term trials (n=105,791; mean duration 3.4 years) involving patients with a wide variety of cardiovascular (CV) risk factors, such as previous myocardial infarction and hypertension.

As reported in the BMJ, the team found that in the short-term studies patients who received statin therapy were 39% less likely to develop AF than those who received placebo over the follow-up period (p<0.001).

However, the results from the long-term studies revealed no significant relationship between risk for developing AF and statin therapy.

Rahimi and team say that these contradictory findings may be the result of "methodological and clinical differences between shorter and longer term trials."

For example, patients in the short-term studies often had a history of AF whereas those in the long-term studies did not.

The authors therefore conclude that further study into "the effect of statins on AF in particular populations of patients with selection of outcomes that are relevant to patients and healthcare providers could be explored in future well-designed randomized trials."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lauretta Ihonor


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