Statin Drugs Help Heart Patients Survive

Giving the cholesterol-busters to cardiac patients saves lives, study suggests

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THURSDAY, May 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) have a much better chance of long-term survival if they receive early, aggressive cholesterol-lowering statin drug therapy when they're in the hospital, U.S. researchers report.

"We found that there was a benefit in what matters most -- survival," researcher Dr. Anthony Bavry, a fellow in cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues analyzed data from nine clinical trials involving more than 16,000 patients admitted to hospital with ACS, a term that encompasses both unstable angina and a particular form of heart attack.

In each of the nine studies, ACS patients were randomly assigned to receive either maximum-dose statin therapy while they were in the hospital, low-dose statin therapy or placebo. Statins are most often used to lower cholesterol, but the drugs have other effects as well, including the ability to reduce inflammation in the arteries.

This new study found that early, aggressive statin therapy reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by 25 percent and the overall risk of death by 22 percent for an average follow-up period of 15 months. For every 111 patients treated with early statin therapy, one life could be saved, Bavry and his colleagues concluded.

They also found that early statin therapy reduced the risk of another episode of unstable angina 17 percent and reduced the risk of the need to open a blocked artery with a catheter-based procedure or coronary bypass surgery by 9 percent.

The study was presented Thursday at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions meeting, in Chicago.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about angina.

SOURCE: Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, news release, May 11, 2006

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