Association between statin therapy dose intensity and radiation cardiotoxicity in non-small cell lung cancer: results from the NI-HEART study

Gerard M. Walls*, John O'Connor, Mark Harbinson, Eamon P. McCarron, Frances Duane, Conor McCann, Peter McKavanagh, David I. Johnston, Jayaraj Erekkath, Valentina Giacometti, Anna T. Gavin, Jonathan McAleese, Alan R. Hounsell, Aidan J. Cole, Karl T. Butterworth, Conor K. McGarry, Gerard G. Hanna, Suneil Jain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Downloads (Pure)


Radiation cardiotoxicity is a dose-limiting toxicity and major survivorship issue for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) completing curative-intent radiotherapy, however patients’ cardiovascular baseline is not routinely optimised prior to treatment. In this study we examined the impact of statin therapy on overall survival and post-radiotherapy cardiac events.

Patients treated between 2015–2020 at a regional center were identified. Clinical notes were interrogated for baseline patient, tumor and cardiac details, and both follow-up cancer control and cardiac events. Three cardiologists verified cardiac events. Radiotherapy planning scans were retrieved for application of validated deep learning-based autosegmentation. Pre-specified Cox regression analyses were generated with varying degrees of adjustment for overall survival. Fine and Gray regression for the risk of cardiac events, accounting for the competing risk of death and cardiac covariables was undertaken.

Statin therapy was prescribed to 59% of the 478 included patients. The majority (88%) of patients not prescribed a statin had at least one indication for statin therapy according to cardiovascular guidelines. In total, 340 patients (71%) died and 79 patients (17%) experienced a cardiac event. High-intensity (HR 0.68, 95%CI 0.50–0.91, p = 0.012) and medium-intensity (HR 0.70, 95%CI 0.51–0.97, p = 0.033) statin therapy were associated with improved overall survival after adjustment for patient, cancer, treatment, response and cardiovascular clinical factors. There were no consistent differences in the rate or grade of cardiac events according to statin intensity.

Statin therapy is associated with improved overall survival in patients receiving curative-intent radiotherapy for NSCLC, and there is evidence of a dose–response relationship. This study highlights the importance of a pre-treatment cardiovascular risk assessment in this cohort. Further studies are needed to examine if statin therapy is cardioprotective in patients undergoing treatment for NSCLC with considerable incidental cardiac radiation dose and a low baseline cardiac risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109762
Number of pages9
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Early online date20 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2023


  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Lung cancer
  • Statins
  • Radiotherapy
  • Co-morbidities


Dive into the research topics of 'Association between statin therapy dose intensity and radiation cardiotoxicity in non-small cell lung cancer: results from the NI-HEART study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this