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Are Statins Less Helpful for Women?
Date:6/25/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- The cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins may be less effective for preventing death and recurrent strokes in women than in men, a new study suggests.

A review of 11 trials found that statins such as Lipitor and Crestor prevent recurrent heart attacks in men and women, but it showed no benefit for women in terms of second stroke or death from all causes.

However, experts who weren't involved with the study said it was flawed -- women comprised only a fraction of participants, for example -- and they contend the drugs are life-savers for both sexes.

The report was published June 25 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

For the study, researchers led by Dr. Jose Gutierrez, of the vascular neurology program at the Neurological Institute of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, pooled data on more than 43,000 participants from studies published prior to September 2010.

All patients had previous cardiovascular disease, such as a prior heart attack or stroke, angina, or peripheral artery disease.

"Statin therapy reduces the recurrence of cardiovascular events rate in both men and women," said Gutierrez.

"For women, the reduction in the recurrence rate of stroke and all-cause mortality is less robust than in men," he added.

In this type of study, called a meta-analysis, researchers try to glean common patterns from similar, but different studies. The results of any meta-analysis are limited by the selection of studies, the power of their conclusions and the number of participants.

In this case, each study looked at whether statins, which are taken by millions of Americans, were better than placebo in preventing new strokes and heart attacks or death among men and women with a history of heart problems.

The researchers found that among men, statins did reduce the odds of suf
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