Heart failure patients treated with statins experience a reduced risk of death and hospitalization, even if they also suffer from coronary heart disease (CHD), new data show.

A team of researchers in California studied 24,598 patients diagnosed with heart failure who had not previously used statin drugs. At a median 2.4 years’ follow-up — and after adjusting for a range of factors including CHD, age, and gender — the investigators found that those who started statin therapy were 21% less likely to be hospitalized and 24% less likely to die from heart failure than those not taking statins.

Though it has long been known that statins lower LDL and help prevent atherosclerotic events in the general population, it has been unclear whether the agents benefit patients with heart failure. The new findings may settle the question; the research team concluded that “statin therapy is a robust predictor of improved outcomes” (JAMA. 2006;296:2105-2111).

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In a related study, data showed that heart failure patients who present with systolic BP <120 mm Hg have a poor prognosis even if they receive appropriate medical therapy (JAMA. 2006;296:2217-2226). Such patients are at particularly high risk of death, with a combined in-hospital and early postdischarge mortality rate of 21.2%, more than 9% higher than normotensive patients.