Background: Although treatment of myocardial overload effectively reduces death from progression of heart failure, it is not known whether the retardation of progressive coronary artery disease obtained with lipid lowering treatment will prevent the onset and consequences of heart failure in patients without previous symptoms of heart failure.
Methods and results: In the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study, 4444 patients with coronary heart disease without evidence of heart failure were randomized to placebo (n = 2223) or simvastatin 20-40 mg (n = 2221) and followed for more than 5 years. Among the patients who received placebo, 228 (10.3%) were diagnosed with heart failure during follow-up evaluation compared with 184 (8.3%) of patients who received simvastatin (P < .015). Mortality was 31.9% in the placebo group and 25.5% in the simvastatin group among patients who developed heart failure. These compare with 9.2 and 6.6%, respectively, among non-heart failure patients. There were 45 hospitalizations because of acute heart failure in the placebo group and 23 in the simvastatin group (NS). Patients who developed heart failure were more likely to have suffered a recurrent myocardial infarction and have a history of diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and hypertension than patients who did not develop congestive heart failure.
Conclusion: Long-term prevention with simvastatin reduces the occurrence of heart failure in a cohort of patients with coronary heart disease without previous evidence of congestive heart failure.