Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Bring Mixed Benefits

High-dose statins may not be worth the cost for some heart patients, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, April 25, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Higher doses of cholesterol-lowering statins may not be cost-effective for all heart patients, U.S. researchers find.

In the study, a team from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System performed a computer analysis of data from thousands of heart patients.

They found that patients with a recent history of acute coronary syndrome -- either a heart attack or a hospital stay for chest pain -- get more than four additional quality-adjusted months of life from higher doses of statins.

This makes the extra cost of the higher doses worthwhile, even if it's a few extra dollars a day, the researchers said.

But that may not be the case for patients with stable coronary artery disease, who have narrowed arteries but haven't recently been hospitalized for heart attack or chest pain.

For these patients, the usual statin dose may provide adequate heart protection. Higher doses may offer only marginal benefit -- only about five weeks of quality-adjusted life.

The study was published online this week in the journal Circulation, and is expected to be published in the May 8 print issue of the journal.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about acute coronary syndrome.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, April 24, 2007

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