Over half of the people prescribed the targeted blood cancer-fighting drug ibrutinib developed new or worsened high blood pressure within six months of starting the medication, according to a new study published online today in Blood. The analysis is also the first to tie ibrutinib-related hypertension to a heightened risk of heart problems, particularly atrial fibrillation. Moreover, the association of ibrutinib with cardiovascular complications remained regardless of the prescribed dose.
“This study provides a more clear picture of the extent of hypertension development among patients taking ibrutinib, while allowing us to tease out what ibrutinib-related hypertension means in the long run for other cardiovascular events and survival,” said Daniel Addison, MD, of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Control Research Program, and the study’s senior author. “Overall, both the magnitude and level of hypertension that developed was higher than previously thought and appears to portend a higher risk of other cardiac events.”
In fact, after controlling for traditional risk factors, people treated with ibrutinib who developed new or worsened hypertension were more than twice as likely to develop other heart problems, including arrhythmias, compared with people who did not develop hypertension while taking the cancer drug. The good news: Addison and his team found that the initiation of blood pressure-lowering medications among ibrutinib patients with new or worsened high blood pressure was associated with a 60 percent reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events.