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Cholesterol Drugs May Help in Cardiac Emergency
Date:5/1/2009

A dose of a statin in time of crisis improved long-term outcomes, study found

FRIDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- Giving patients a cholesterol-busting statin drug during a coronary emergency can save lives and reduce the incidence of longer-term problems, Czech researchers say.

The one-year risk of death or major heart problems was more than halved for people suffering life-threatening episodes of acute coronary syndrome who received the drugs, compared to those who didn't, cardiologists at the Na Homolce Hospital in Prague reported at an American Heart Association meeting in Washington, D.C.

Statins include widely used medications such as Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Pravachol and Zocor.

The study included 156 people treated at the hospital for acute coronary syndrome, which can typically involve the acute chest pain known as angina, and/or a heart attack. Half of the patients received usual emergency care, while the other half also received 80 milligrams a day of fluvastatin (Lescol) immediately and then every day for 30 days. Those who received the statin were encouraged to keep on taking the medication when they went home.

After one year, 10 of the 78 people (about 13 percent) who took the statin had died or suffered a major coronary problem, such as a heart attack or recurrent angina, compared to just under 27 percent (21 of 78) of those who didn't receive the drug, the researchers reported.

Only about 18 percent of those who received statins had problems requiring hospitalization during the follow-up period, compared to nearly 44 percent of those not taking the medication.

It's "a very small sample" but "consistent with what we know," said Dr. Robert A. Harrington, professor of medicine at Duke University and director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

The finding is "not novel," he said, since a number of other studies have shown benefits from the immediate use of st
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