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Higher Statin Doses Linked to Fewer Heart Attacks, Stroke
Date:11/9/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Using high doses of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins appears to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or the need for additional cardiac procedures more than regular doses of statins in people who have had a stroke or suffer from heart disease, two new studies find.

This benefit was seen even among those whose cholesterol levels were already low, researchers say. Statins include widely used medications such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor.

"For high-risk people, those with heart disease or [who] have had a stroke who are taking a standard dose of a statin, further reduction in LDL cholesterol will give them extra benefit," said Dr. Colin Baigent of the Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit at University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, who was involved in both studies. This applied even if the patients already had low levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol, he noted.

The reports are published in the Nov. 9 online edition of The Lancet.

In the first study, researchers at Oxford and the University of Sydney in Australia collected data from studies on 170,000 patients who took part in 26 trials. This type of review, called a meta-analysis, gathers data from various studies to see if a pattern emerges.

Among these trials, five compared high doses of statins with regular doses and the other 21 studies compared people taking statins with people not taking the drugs.

The researchers found that in trials comparing statin doses, taking high-dose statins reduced the odds of having a stroke by an additional 15 percent, compared to the usual doses of statins.

Specifically, there was a 13 percent reduction in heart-related death or heart attack, a 19 percent reduction in the need for a new heart operation and a 16 percent reduction in stroke, the researchers fou
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