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The risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular hospitalizations after early stage breast cancer: a matched cohort study

Abdel-Qadir H, Thavendiranathan P, Austin PC, Lee DS, Amir E, Tu JV, Fung K, Anderson GM. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2019; 111(8):854-62. Epub 2019 Jan 31. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djy218.

Background — Data are limited regarding the risk of heart failure (HF) requiring hospital-based care after early stage breast cancer (EBC) and its relationship to other types of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods — We conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of EBC patients (diagnosed April 1, 2005–March 31, 2015) matched 1:3 on birth-year to cancer-free control subjects. We identified hospitalizations and emergency department visits for CVD through March 31, 2017. We used cumulative incidence function curves to estimate CVD incidence and cause-specific regression models to compare CVD rates between cohorts. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results — We identified 78 318 EBC patients and 234 954 control subjects. The 10-year incidence of CVD hospitalization was 10.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 10.5% to 11.1%) after EBC and 9.1% (95% CI = 8.9% to 9.2%) in control subjects. Ischemic heart disease was the most common reason for CVD hospitalization after EBC. After regression adjustment, the relative rates compared with control subjects remained statistically significantly elevated for HF (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.14 to 1.29, P < .001), arrhythmias (HR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.23 to 1.39, P < .001), and cerebrovascular disease (HR 1.10, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.17, P = .002) hospitalizations. It was rare for HF hospital presentations (2.9% of cases) to occur in EBC patients without recognized risk factors (age >60 years, hypertension, diabetes, prior CVD). Anthracycline and/or trastuzumab were used in 28 950 EBC patients; they were younger than the overall cohort with lower absolute rates of CVD, hypertension, and diabetes. However, they had higher relative rates of CVD in comparison with age-matched control subjects.

Conclusions — Atherosclerotic diagnoses, rather than HF, were the most common reasons for CVD hospitalization after EBC. HF hospital presentations were often preceded by risk factors other than chemotherapy, suggesting potential opportunities for prevention.

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