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Millions More Americans Might Be Placed on Statins
Date:1/13/2009

Recent data could lead to wider prescribing of cholesterol-lowering drugs, experts say

TUESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- If doctors start taking results of a recent drug company-sponsored trial seriously, 11 million more older Americans might be taking cholesterol-lowering statin medications, experts say.

Results from the JUPITER trial were first reported in November 2008. The study was cut short, because treatment with Crestor (rosuvastatin) -- the statin marketed by AstraZeneca, sponsor of the trial -- was found to reduce heart attack and stroke by 44 percent among participants who had normal levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol but elevated levels of an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP).

If that finding becomes an important element in medical practice, researchers at Yale University estimated that the use of statins will be expanded widely.

They published their findings Jan. 13 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to high blood pressure and heart woes, and today about 33.5 million older Americans (men 50 and older, women 60 and older) now either take a statin drug or should be taking one to lower their cholesterol levels, the report said. Statins include blockbuster medications such as Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol and Zocor.

But what about people who have normal levels of LDL cholesterol, but higher concentrations of the inflammatory marker CRP? Adding those people into the mix would greatly expand the pool of potential statin users, the researchers said.

"Based on our analysis, more than 44.7 million older Americans might have an indication for statin therapy when you consider those who already meet current guidelines for statin therapy and those who might be eligible based on the criteria proposed in JUPITER," lead author Dr. Erica S. Spatz, an internist and fellow in the Robert Wood Johns
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