American Heart Association

American Heart Association

November 16, 2019
8 min read

COLCOT: Low-dose colchicine reduces CV risk after MI

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Jean-Claude Tardif

PHILADELPHIA — Adults with a recent MI were less likely to experience an ischemic CV event over 2 years when assigned the anti-inflammatory gout medication colchicine compared with assignment to placebo, according to new results of the COLCOT trial presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

“In addition to standard of care in patients with a recent MI, colchicine 0.5 mg daily significantly reduces the risk for first ischemic CV events by 23% and total ischemic cardiovascular events by 34%,” Jean-Claude Tardif, MD, director of research at the Montreal Heart Institute, told Healio. “By repurposing well-known medications like colchicine, we can help address the major public health issue of subsequent CV events after an MI in a cost-effective manner, to help patients worldwide overcome the cost barriers of their treatment.”

Efficacy, safety

The COLCOT researchers analyzed data from 4,745 adults recruited within 30 days after MI who were randomly assigned colchicine 0.5 mg once daily (n = 2,366) or placebo (n = 2,379) and followed for a median of 22.6 months. The mean age was 61 years, 19% were women and 20% had diabetes.

The primary endpoint — CV death, resuscitated cardiac arrest, MI, stroke or hospitalization for angina leading to coronary revascularization — occurred in 5.5% of participants in the colchicine arm and 7.1% of participants in the placebo arm, for an HR of 0.77 (95% CI, 0.61-0.96).

The researchers observed risk reduction across the five individual endpoints for patients in the colchicine arm: HR = 0.84 for CV death (95% CI, 0.46-1.52), 0.83 for resuscitated cardiac arrest (95% CI, 0.25-2.73), 0.91 for MI (95% CI, 0.68-1.21), 0.26 for stroke (95% CI, 0.1-0.7) and 0.5 for urgent hospitalization for angina (95% CI, 0.31-0.81).

In a per-protocol analysis, the benefits of colchicine were magnified, Tardif said, with a relative risk reduction of 29% for the primary endpoint (HR = 0.71; 95% CI, 0.56-0.9).

Colchicine was well tolerated and there were no between-group differences for adverse events, Tardif said. Rates of diarrhea (9.7% vs. 8.9%; P = .35) and pneumonia (0.9% vs. 0.4%; P = .03) were higher among patients assigned colchicine.

“The magnitude of colchicine's benefits, 23% and 34% for first and total — including recurrent — primary endpoint CV events, on a background of excellent standard of care, is surprising,” Tardif said in an interview. “The excellent tolerability profile of colchicine is also very reassuring.”


Mean index MI-to-randomization time was 13.4 days, and 93% of participants underwent PCI for the index MI. Aspirin, a different antiplatelet agent and a statin were taken by 98.8%, 97.9% and 99% of participants, respectively.

A landmark study

The COLCOT results provide confirmation that inflammation management reduces CV risk, Aruna Pradhan, MD, associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said during a discussion of the findings.

“This will be a landmark study,” Pradhan said during a press conference, adding that it is an example of successful repurposing of a broadly available, relatively safe generic drug for a new application.

Pradhan noted that individual endpoints in the primary composite outcome were numerically lower, but did not rise to statistical significance.

“The major benefit seemed to be in urgent revascularization, which was significantly lower in those with colchicine,” Pradhan said, adding the observed signal for a stroke benefit was weak.

Drug discontinuation rates were similar in both arms at 2 years, with rates of 18.4% and 18.7% with colchicine and placebo, respectively, Pradhan said.

Other considerations

Cardiologists are not typically familiar with the use of colchicine for long-term therapy, Pradhan said. Caution should be advised for the use of colchicine in patients with chronic kidney disease, as the drug is renally cleared, she said. The 0.5 mg dose is not available in the U.S., and the implications for off-label use with the currently available 0.6 mg generic formulations are not known.

The mechanism of CV risk reduction was also not elucidated, although researchers observed large declines in inflammation markers for participants in the colchicine arm.

“We now have a drug that is already available, and the question for the guideline writers that they will have to wrestle with is, is this the sixth drug in our cocktail for post-MI patients?” Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, associate dean for clinical and translational research, chair of the department of preventive medicine and director of Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, said during a question-and-answer session during the press conference. “We have now one trial, modestly sized, but with a significant reduction in endpoints. This is going to start a very important conversation in understanding: Should we be using this for everyone? When you have a safe drug that is easily available, it is going to be hard to hold it back.”


Tardif said more research is needed to assess the benefits of colchicine in other high-risk groups. A new trial, COLCOT-TD2, will randomly assign 10,000 individuals with type 2 diabetes but without known coronary disease to receive colchicine 0.5 mg or placebo, Tardif said. – by Regina Schaffer


Tardif JC, et al. Late Breaking Science I. Outside the Box: New Approaches to CVD Risk Reduction. Presented at: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions; Nov. 16-18, 2019; Philadelphia.

Tardif JC, et al. N Engl J Med. 2019; doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1912388.

Disclosures: Tardif reports he has received grants or personal fees from Amarin, AstraZeneca, DalCor, Esperion, Ionis, Pfizer, Sanofi and Servier, and has a patent for genetic markers predicting responsiveness to therapy with HDL-raising agents. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures. Lloyd-Jones reports no relevant financial disclosures. Pradhan reports she receives research grants from Denka Seiken and Kowa Research Institute.