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Cushing’s disease patients in Sweden have a higher risk of death than the general Swedish population, particularly of cardiovascular complications, and that increased risk persists even in patients in remission, a large nationwide study shows. The study, “Overall and disease-specific mortality in patients with Cushing’s disease: a Swedish nationwide study,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The outcomes of Cushing’s disease patients have improved with the introduction of several therapeutic approaches, such as minimally invasive surgery and cortisol-lowering therapies. However, mortality is still high, especially among those who do not achieve remission. While currently patients in remission are thought to have a better prognosis, it is still unclear whether these patients still have a higher mortality than the general population. Understanding whether these patients are more likely to die and what risk factors are associated with increased mortality is critical to reduce death rates among Cushing’s patients. A team of Swedish researchers thus performed a retrospective study that included patients diagnosed with Cushing’s disease who were part of the Swedish National Patient Registry between 1987 and 2013. A total of 502 patients with Cushing’s disease were included in the study, 419 of whom were confirmed to be in remission. Most patients (77%) were women; the mean age at diagnosis was 43 years, and the median follow-up time was 13 years. During the follow-up, 133 Cushing’s patients died, compared to 54 expected deaths in the general population — a mortality rate 2.5 times higher, researchers said. The most common causes of death among Cushing’s patients were cardiovascular diseases, particularly ischemic heart disease and cerebral infarctions. However, infectious and respiratory diseases (including pneumonia), as well as diseases of the digestive system, also contributed to the increased mortality among Cushing’s patients. Of those in remission, 21% died, compared to 55% among those not in remission. While these patients had a lower risk of death, their mortality rate was still 90% higher than that of the general population. For patients who did not achieve remission, the mortality rate was 6.9 times higher. The mortality associated with cardiovascular diseases was increased for both patients in remission and not in remission. Also, older age at the start of the study and time in remission were associated with mortality risk. “A more aggressive treatment of hypertension, dyslipidemia [abnormal amount of fat in the blood], and other cardiovascular risk factors might be warranted in patients with CS in remission,” researchers said. Of the 419 patients in remission, 315 had undergone pituitary surgery, 102 had had their adrenal glands removed, and 116 had received radiation therapy. Surgical removal of the adrenal glands and chronic glucocorticoid replacement therapy were associated with a worse prognosis. In fact, glucocorticoid replacement therapy more than twice increased the mortality risk. Growth hormone replacement was linked with better outcomes. In remission patients, a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure had no impact on mortality risk. Overall, “this large nationwide study shows that patients with [Cushing’s disease] continue to have excess mortality even after remission,” researchers stated. The highest mortality rates, however, were seen in “patients with persistent disease, those who were treated with bilateral adrenalectomy and those who required glucocorticoid replacement.” “Further studies need to focus on identifying best approaches to obtaining remission, active surveillance, adequate hormone replacement and long-term management of cardiovascular and mental health in these patients,” the study concluded. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2019/02/28/even-in-remission-cushings-patients-have-excess-mortality-swedish-study-says/
ORLANDO – Cushing’s disease may begin to exert its harmful cardiovascular effects quite early, a small pediatric study has found. Children as young as 6 years old with the disorder already may show signs of cardiovascular remodeling, with stiffer aortas and higher aortic pulse-wave velocity than do age-matched controls, Hailey Blain and Maya Lodish, MD, said at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society. “The study, which included 10 patients, is small, but we continue to add new patients,” said Dr. Lodish, director of the pediatric endocrinology fellowship program at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Ten more children are being added to the cohort now, and she and Ms. Blain, a former research fellow at NIH, intend to grow the group and follow patients longitudinally. Cushing’s disease has long been linked with increased cardiovascular risk in adults, but the study by Dr. Lodish and Ms. Blain is one of the first to examine the link in children. Their findings suggest that early cardiovascular risk factor management should be a routine part of these patients’ care, Dr. Lodish said in an interview. “It’s very important to make sure that there is recognition of the cardiovascular risk factors that go along with this disease. Elevated levels of cholesterol, hypertension, and other risk factors that are in these individuals should be ameliorated as soon as possible from an early age and, most importantly, physicians should be diagnosing and treating children early, once they are identified as having Cushing’s disease. And, given that we are not sure whether these changes are reversible, we need to make sure these children are followed very closely.” Indeed, Dr. Lodish has reason to believe that the changes may be long lasting or even permanent. “We are looking at these children longitudinally and have 3-year data on some patients already. We want to see if they return to normal pulse wave velocity after surgical cure, or whether this is permanent remodeling. There is an implication already that it may be in a subset of individuals,” she said, citing her own 2009 study on hypertension in pediatric Cushing’s patients. “We looked at blood pressure at presentation, after surgical cure, and 1 year later. A significant portion of the kids still had hypertension at 1 year. This leads us to wonder if they will continue to be at risk for cardiovascular morbidity as adults.” Ms. Blaine, an undergraduate at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, worked on the study during a summer internship with Dr. Lodish and presented its results in a poster forum during meeting. She examined two indicators of cardiovascular remodeling – aortic pulse wave velocity and aortic distensibility – in 10 patients who were a mean of 13 years old. All of the children came to NIH for diagnosis and treatment of Cushing’s; as part of that, all underwent a cardiac MRI. The patients had a mean 2.5-year history of Cushing’s disease Their mean midnight cortisol level was 18.8 mcg/dL and mean plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone level, 77.3 pg/mL. Five patients were taking antihypertensive medications. Low- and high-density lipoprotein levels were acceptable in all patients. The cardiovascular measures were compared to an age-matched historical control group. In this comparison, patients had significantly higher pulse wave velocity compared with controls (mean 4 vs. 3.4 m/s). Pulse wave velocity positively correlated with both midnight plasma cortisol and 24-hour urinary free cortisol collections. In the three patients with long-term follow-up after surgical cure of Cushing’s, the pulse wave velocity did not improve, either at 6 months or 1 year after surgery. This finding echoes those of Dr. Lodish’s 2009 paper, suggesting that once cardiovascular remodeling sets in, the changes may be long lasting. “The link between Cushing’s and cardiovascular remodeling is related to the other things that go along with the disease,” Dr. Lodish said. “The hypertension, the adiposity, and the high cholesterol all may contribute to arterial rigidity. It’s also thought to be due to an increase in connective tissue. The bioelastic function of the aorta may be affected by having Cushing’s.” That connection also suggests that certain antihypertensives may be more beneficial to patients with Cushing’s disease, she added. “It might have an implication in what blood pressure drug you use. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors increase vascular distensibility and inhibit collagen formation and fibrosis. It is a pilot study and needs longitudinal follow up and additional patient accrual, however, finding signs of cardiovascular remodeling in young children with Cushing’s is intriguing and deserves further study.” Neither Ms. Blain nor Dr. Lodish had any financial disclosures. email@example.com
Even after successful treatment, patients with Cushing’s disease who were older when diagnosed or had prolonged exposure to excess cortisol face a greater risk of dying or developing cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). Cushing’s disease is a rare condition where the body is exposed to excess cortisol – a stress hormone produced in the adrenal gland – for long periods of time. Researchers have long known that patients who have Cushing’s disease are at greater risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease than the average person. This study examined whether the risk could be eliminated or reduced when the disease is controlled. Researchers found that these risk factors remained long after patients were exposed to excess cortisol. “The longer patients with Cushing’s disease are exposed to excess cortisol and the older they are when diagnosed, the more likely they are to experience these challenges,” said Eliza B. Geer, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center and lead author of the study. “The findings demonstrate just how critical it is for Cushing’s disease to be diagnosed and treated quickly. Patients also need long-term follow-up care to help them achieve good outcomes.” The study found cured Cushing’s disease patients who had depression when they started to experience symptoms of the disease had an elevated risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease. Men were more at risk than women, a trend that may be explained by a lack of follow-up care, according to the study. In addition, patients who had both Cushing’s syndrome and diabetes were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. The study examined one of the largest cohorts of Cushing’s disease patients operated on by a single surgeon. The researchers retrospectively reviewed charts for 346 Cushing’s disease patients who were treated between 1980 and 2011. Researchers estimated the duration of exposure to excess cortisol by calculating how long symptoms lasted before the patient went into remission. The patients who were studied had an average exposure period of 40 months. The findings may have implications for people who take steroid medications, Geer said. People treated with high doses of steroid medications such as prednisone, hydrocortisone or dexamethasone are exposed to high levels of cortisol and may experience similar conditions as Cushing’s disease patients. “While steroid medications are useful for treating patients with a variety of conditions, the data suggests health care providers need to be aware that older patients or those who take steroid medications for long periods could be facing higher risk,” Geer said. “These patients should be monitored carefully while more study is done in this area.” From http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/256284.php
(HealthDay News) – A number of factors, including the duration of glucocorticoid exposure, older age at diagnosis, and preoperative adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) concentration, are associated with a higher risk of mortality in patients treated for Cushing's disease (CD), according to research published online Feb. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. In an effort to identify predictors of mortality, cardiovascular disease, and recurrence with long-term follow-up, Jessica K. Lambert, MD, of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues performed a retrospective chart review of 346 patients with CD who underwent transsphenoidal adenectomy. The researchers found that the average length of exposure to glucocorticoids was 40 months. The risk of death was higher for those patients who had a longer duration of glucocorticoid exposure, older age at diagnosis, and higher preoperative ACTH concentration. For patients who achieved remission, depressed patients had a higher risk of death. The risk of cardiovascular disease was highest for men, older people, and those with diabetes or depression. "Our study has identified several predictors of mortality in patients with treated CD, including duration of exposure to excess glucocorticoids, preoperative ACTH concentration, and older age at diagnosis. Depression and male gender predicted mortality among patients who achieved remission," the authors write. "These data illustrate the importance of early recognition and treatment of CD. Long-term follow-up, with management of persistent comorbidities by an experienced endocrinologist, is needed even after successful treatment of CD." Abstract Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)