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Statin Treatment Shows Long-Term Benefits

Pravastatin study supports early intervention and extended treatment in men with high cholesterol

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In men with high cholesterol, early treatment with pravastatin may significantly reduce the 10-year risk of death, according to study findings published in the Oct. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ian Ford, Ph.D., of the University of Glasgow in the U.K., and colleagues analyzed follow-up data for 10 years after completion of a trial that had randomized 6,595 men with high cholesterol and no history of heart attack to receive either pravastatin or placebo for five years.

The cardiovascular benefits associated with pravastatin in the initial trial persisted during the 10-year follow-up period. The risk of death from coronary heart disease or non-fatal myocardial infarction was significantly lower in the pravastatin group than in the placebo group (11.8 percent versus 15.5 percent), despite the fact that both groups had similar rates of statin use after trial completion.

"The data from Ford and colleagues provide some tantalizing insights," the author of an accompanying editorial writes. "The fact that the group originally assigned to pravastatin had better outcomes, even after years of similar statin treatment of the placebo group during the post-trial period, suggests the importance of duration of therapy in determining outcome. Earlier initiation of therapy appears to have durably mitigated the atherosclerotic process."

This study was partially supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sankyo.

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