Aspirin use is associated with a 26% higher risk of heart failure in people with at least one risk factor for it, according to a study published today in ESC Heart Failure. Risk factors included smoking, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
“This is the first study to report that among individuals with a least one risk factor for heart failure, those taking aspirin were more likely to subsequently develop the condition than those not using the medication,” said study author Dr. Blerim Mujaj of the University of Freiburg, Germany. “While the findings require confirmation, they do indicate that the potential link between aspirin and heart failure needs to be clarified.”
The influence of aspirin on heart failure is controversial, and so the study sought to investigate its association with heart failure incidence in people with and without heart disease and assess whether it is related to a new heart failure diagnosis in at-risk individuals.
The analysis included 30 827 individuals at risk for developing heart failure who were enrolled from Western Europe and the US into the HOMAGE study. The definition of “at risk” included one or more of the following: smoking, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Participants were aged 40 years and older and were free of heart failure at baseline. Aspirin use was recorded at enrolment and participants were classified as users or non-users. Participants were followed-up for the first incidence of fatal or non-fatal heart failure requiring hospitalisation.
Average participant age was 67, 34% were women, and at baseline, a total of 7,698 participants (25%) were taking aspirin. During the 5.3-year follow-up, 1330 participants developed heart failure.
The investigators assessed the association between aspirin use and incident heart failure after adjusting for factors including demographic variables, medical history and medication. Taking aspirin was independently associated with a 26% raised risk of a new heart failure diagnosis.
For consistency, the researchers repeated the analysis after matching aspirin users and non-users for heart failure risk factors. In this matched analysis, aspirin was associated with a 26% raised risk of a new heart failure diagnosis. After excluding patients with a history of cardiovascular disease, in 22 690 participants (74%) without cardiovascular disease, aspirin use was still associated with a 27% increased risk of incident heart failure.
Dr Mujaj noted that “this was the first large study to investigate the relationship between aspirin use and incident heart failure in individuals with and without heart disease and at least one risk factor. Aspirin is commonly used – in our study one in four participants were taking the medication. In this population, aspirin use was associated with incident heart failure, independent of other risk factors.”
He concluded that “large multinational randomised trials in adults at risk for heart failure are needed to verify these results. Until then, our observations suggest that aspirin should be prescribed with caution in those with heart failure or with risk factors for the condition.”
Source: European Society of Cardiology