Patients with heart failure may be at a higher risk for cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers used data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Olmstead County, Minn., to compare 596 heart failure patients with healthy controls matched for age, sex and date over two 11-year periods. They found that cancer risk in patients with heart failure was 48% higher between 1979 and 1990 and 86% higher between 1991 and 2002 than risk in patients who did not have heart failure, after adjustment for BMI, smoking, and Charlson comorbidity index. Risk for death was 56% higher in heart failure patients with an incident cancer diagnosis compared to heart failure patients without cancer.
The study authors noted that they did not have data available on health care utilization and that they could not analyze cause-specific death or types of cancer, among other limitations. However, they wrote that risk for cancer after heart failure appears to be increasing over time and is associated with higher mortality rates, and that their results emphasize "the importance of non-cardiac morbidity and of cancer surveillance in the management of [heart failure] patients."
An accompanying editorial called the findings novel but said they should be interpreted with caution. Future studies, the editorialists said, should look at temporal trends in cancer incidence among heart failure patients, how cancer surveillance affects cancer diagnosis, and how cancer treatment affects mortality. Other factors that could increase cancer risk, such as medications and diet, should also be examined, they wrote.
The study and editorial were published online June 25 by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.