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September 2008 Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource Highlights Normal Weight Obesity, Regular Exercise and Cholesterol
Date:9/2/2008

zetimibe-simvastatin (Vytorin), which combines a statin with a cholesterol-absorption inhibitor, with the stand-alone statin simvastatin (Zocor). Researchers hoped that the combination drug would lower LDL cholesterol even more than the statin alone. However, they found the combination drug didn't reduce thickness of plaque in the blood vessel walls any more than the statin did.

The study garnered considerable attention because it seemed to question the long-held belief that lowering LDL cholesterol is an effective way of preventing heart attack and stroke. But many doctors have misgivings about that interpretation, the accuracy of the results and how the findings have been generalized.

Because of the many environmental and genetic factors involved in heart disease, some drugs may be more effective than others in preventing atherosclerosis. There's no evidence that ezetimibe is unsafe and, in fact, taking this drug may allow for a lower statin dose and reduce the statin side effects such as muscle pain. Results from additional studies on ezetimibe are expected in a few years.

When diet and exercise aren't enough, evidence still supports that any therapy that lowers LDL cholesterol appears to provide benefits, and there are many options. Consult a doctor about the best ways to manage cholesterol.

Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic. To subscribe, please call 800-876-8633, extension 9751, or visit http://www.bookstore.mayoclinic.com.


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