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Certain Cholesterol Drugs Show Their Limits
Date:11/5/2007

Studies reveal that some of these heart medications aren't perfect

MONDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- New research is starting to show that certain cholesterol drugs have their limits and flaws.

One case in point is a study presented Monday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. European researchers found that the statin Crestor did not reduce deaths in older patients with systolic heart failure. The drug did, however, reduce hospitalizations from cardiovascular causes. The report, which was released early to coincide with the presentation, will be published in the Nov. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Systolic heart failure occurs when the heart doesn't contract with enough force to push enough blood through the body. Generally, patients with systolic heart failure have not been included in statin trials because they are considered too high risk.

In this trial, more than 5,000 older patients (mean age 73) with New York Heart Association class II, III or IV ischemic systolic heart failure were randomly assigned to receive 10 milligrams of Crestor or a placebo each day.

After a median follow-up of almost three years, "there was no effect whatsoever on [cardiovascular] mortality, while there was a reduction in nonfatal [myocardial infarction] and nonfatal stroke," said Dr. Ake Hjalmarson, of the Wallenberg Laboratory for Cardiovascular Research at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteberg, Sweden.

Patients taking Crestor also had 45 percent lower levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and 37.1 percent lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

"The statins did what statins are supposed to do. It's surprising that that did not translate into mortality," said Dr. Robert Bonow, immediate past president of the American Heart Association and chief of the division of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "
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