The lesson she draws from the finding is that women should pay more attention to lifestyle factors associated with cardiovascular risk as menopause approaches and occurs. "They should lose weight and keep it off and increase their physical activity," Matthews said. "Smokers should stop smoking."
The study will continue to chart the changes that occur after menopause, she said, looking at such problems as "what happens if you have a lot of hot flashes."
The two statin studies, sponsored by Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which market versions of the cholesterol-lowering drugs, looked at the effects of different dosages, comparing 80 milligrams a day with 40 milligrams daily in nearly 14,000 patients who had experienced one heart attack or other cardiovascular event.
It's been customary to give a higher statin dose after such an event, and the question has been whether to switch back to the lower dose after a while, said Dr. Christopher P. Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a member of the team that performed one of the studies.
"The short answer is that the use of strong statins is helpful in preventing not just a first heart attack or death but could prevent more problems than just one," Cannon said.
That answer emerged because the researchers changed the way they had been counting. In previous studies, they stopped assessing the effect of higher-dose statin use after a single second event. In the two new studies, they kept monitoring the effects after a second event.
"The benefits are even bigger than we thought," Cannon said. "Fifty percent more events were prevented than we have been counting to date because we were just counting the first event."
Other studies in the same issue of the journal reported t
All rights reserved