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Intensive cholesterol therapy with multiple drugs effective over long term
Date:6/25/2012

MAYWOOD, Ill. - For the first time, a study has found that intensive cholesterol therapy involving a combination of drugs for 20 years may be more effective over the long run than taking a single statin medication.

Loyola University Health System cardiologist Binh An P. Phan, MD, FACC, is lead author of the study, which he presented at the National Lipid Association 2012 Annual Scientific Sessions. Phan is director of Loyola's Preventive Cardiology & Lipid Program.

Previous studies have documented the short-term benefits of taking a combination of two or three cholesterol drugs aimed at aggressively lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol). The new study is the first to show such benefits are maintained over a period of 20 years.

Compared with patients who took a single statin, patients who received a combination-drug therapy had dramatically lower levels of LDL and triglycerides, higher HDL and less fatty buildup in the carotid artery.

At the start of the study, both groups had a similar age and fatty buildup in their blood vessels. After 20 years, the group taking the combination therapy had a "vascular age" that was 10.2 years younger than the group taking a single statin.

Vascular age reflects how old an individual's blood vessels appear to be, based on risk factors and the amount of plaque buildup; it can be higher or lower than an individual's chronological age. In the single-medication group, the average vascular age at the end of the study was 84, or 20 years older than the patients' average chronological age. In the intensive therapy group, the vascular age was 74, only 7 years older than the average chronological age.

Phan and colleagues examined data from the Familial Atherosclerosis Treatment Study (FATS). The study divided patients with extremely high cholesterol into three groups: One group took the statin medication lovastatin (Mevacor) plus a medication called colesti
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Contact: Jim Ritter
jritter@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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