A study, reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (February 18, 2004), revealed that statins lowered mortality rates in patients with heart failure by more than half. Whereas it was known already that statins reduce death rates in individuals who have coronary artery disease, their effect on heart failure had not been explored.
In this pioneering study, researchers at the University of California analyzed medical records of 551 patients who had either ischemic heart failure (due to a heart attack) or nonischemic heart failure (due to hypertension, diabetes, and other causes). The results indicated that patients taking statins had a 55% reduction in mortality rate at 1 year, compared with patients not taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. The researchers hypothesize that, because death was independent of cholesterol levels, statins may work by a different mechanism in heart failure patients.
Because this was an observational study, the results need to be verified with further research. A randomized trial is in progress now, according to the researchers.