Statins Lower Lipids Better in Summer Than Winter

Clinicians may need to consider seasonal differences when prescribing for those at coronary risk

FRIDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Statins more effectively lower cholesterol in the summer than in the winter, a fact that may need to be considered by clinicians prescribing the medications to patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS), according to a study in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Patricia Tung, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues looked at data from 4,162 subjects with ACS who participated in the Pravastatin or Atorvastatin Evaluation and Infection Therapy - Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction 22 (PROVE IT-TIMI 22) study. That study randomized 2,099 participants to receive atorvastatin (80 mg) and 2,063 to receive pravastatin (40 mg).

The researchers found lipid levels varied by season and by statin. With pravastatin, median LDL cholesterol was 102 mg/dl in winter compared to 96 mg/dl in summer, while the group taking atorvastatin achieved 68 mg/dl in winter versus 62 mg/dl in summer. For the pravastatin group, median HDL cholesterol was 43 mg/dl in summer compared to 41 mg/dl in winter, while the atorvastatin group achieved 42 mg/dl in summer compared with 39 mg/dl in winter.

"In conclusion, this was the first evidence of seasonal variability in cholesterol in patients with acute coronary syndromes treated with statins. This variability affected achievement of National Cholesterol Education Program goals and may affect management decisions based on season of collection," the authors write.

The original PROVE IT-TIMI 22 Study was supported by a research grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb. Several co-authors report financial relationships with BMS, Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi-Aventis, Accumetrics, AstraZeneca, Glaxo Smith Kline, and Merck/Schering Plough Partnership.

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