Prostate cancer patients receiving androgen deprivation therapy at risk of heart failure

Scientists have found through a study, which has been published in the British Journal of Cancer that men who are receiving androgen deprivation therapy are at an increased risk of heart failure than men who are not receiving this therapy.

Androgen deprivation therapy is a hormone treatment previously used to treat advanced prostate cancer and now being extensively used to  treat prostate cancer in an earlier stage, before it has spread, which is often referred to as localized prostate cancer.

The increased use in case of localized prostate cancer is being carried out without establishing the safety, risk and benefits of this therapy and that’s what authors of the latest study aimed to establish.

The goal of androgen deprivation therapy is to reduce levels of male hormones, called androgens, or to stop them from stimulating prostate cancer cells to grow. Androgen deprivation therapy can lower androgen to the same level as surgical castration within three weeks. This research, which looked at a large cohort of men with localized prostate cancer, suggests androgen deprivation therapy may be related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in this population.

The study found that for men with localized prostate cancer, androgen deprivation therapy was associated with:

  • An 81 percent increased risk of heart failure in men without pre-existing cardiovascular disease
  • An increased risk of heart rhythm problems for men with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, including a 44 percent increased risk of arrhythmia
  • An increased risk (three times more likely) for men with pre-existing cardiovascular disease of developing conduction disorder, an interruption of the electrical impulses to the heart

To determine the effect of androgen deprivation therapy on men with localized prostate cancer, researchers assessed a comprehensive set of factors including pre-existing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, use of cardiovascular medications, smoking, body mass index and PSA levels. This allowed the researchers to account for the differences that could increase the risk of heart attacks, such as smoking, or previous cardiovascular disease.

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