Colchicine Improves Survival for Patients With Heart Failure, Study Results Show

The gout medicine is a potential treatment option for individuals hospitalized for the cardiovascular condition, analysis suggests.

Colchicine, a common medication used to treat gout, significantly improved survival rates for individuals who were hospitalized with worsening heart failure (HF), results from a University of Virginia (UVA) study showed.

Additionally, the investigators also think that colchicine could reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke in individuals with a buildup of cholesterol in their arteries.

“These results highlight the importance of novel inflammatory mechanisms in heart failure,” Kenneth Bilchick, MD, MS, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and a clinical investigator at UVA, said in a statement. “The signal for benefit with colchicine in these patients was very impressive, and I expect that these findings will have quite a significant impact on clinical care in heart failure and future research for patients with this condition.”.

Investigators reviewed records of more than 1000 individuals admitted to the University of Virginia Medical Center between March 2011 and February 2020 for worsening HF.

They found that the individuals who received colchicine for a gout flare had a survival rate of 97.9% compared with a survival rate of 93.5% for those not receiving colchicine.

“Heart failure is more than just a failure of the pumping function of the heart. There are other processes that are involved, especially during an acute hospitalization phase such as elevated inflammation and neuro-hormonal process,” Sula Mazimba, MD, MPH, a UVA School of Medicine researcher and cardiologist specializing in HF, said in the statement.

“Many of the therapeutic agents for heart failure target neuro-hormonal pathways, but few if any target inflammatory pathways. Colchicine is a medication that has anti-inflammatory properties that could potentially attenuate the heightened inflammation that we see in patients who are hospitalized with heart failure,” Mazimba said.

Individuals with HF frequently have gout, a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. The common treatments for gout include colchicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and steroids. . However, NSAIDs and steroids are not typically given to individuals who have HF, because they could potentially worsen their symptoms.

The investigators think that colchicine’s anti-inflammatory properties may also be key to improving the outcomes for individuals with HF. Colchicine could modulate inflammation in the blood vessels and heart with the potential for improving outcomes, especially in the acute phases of HF hospitalizations.

“We’re very excited about these findings, especially given that colchicine is already a widely available medication,” Mary E. Roth, PharmD, a researcher and cardiovascular clinical pharmacist at UVA Health, said in the statement. “If additional studies confirm the results, colchicine could be another tool we can utilize to improve the survival of our heart failure patients.”

Larger studies are needed to further explore the drug as a potential treatment option for heart failure, investigators said.

The findings were published in the scientific journal, Clinical Cardiology. The study was funded by grants from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

References

Gout medicine improves survival for heart failure patients, study finds. EurekAlert, News release. May 19, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/953315