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Statin Benefits Persist After Treatment Stops
Date:10/10/2007

Lower death rates seen up to a decade later, study found

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The beneficial effects of cholesterol-lowering statin therapy lingered for a decade, with significantly lower death rates from cardiovascular disease and all other causes in men who not had been taking the drug for years, a Scottish study found.

"It seems to be that the drugs have the power of patching up damage in the arteries and preventing progression of the disease," said Ian Ford, professor of biostatistics at the University of Glasgow and lead author of the report. "That leads to long-term benefits."

The trial originally included almost 6,600 men with high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Half were assigned to take the statin pravastatin (Pravachol), while half took a placebo, an inactive substance. In the planned five-year duration of the trial, the cardiovascular death rate was 24 percent lower in the men taking the statin.

Some men in both groups took the statin after the trial ended -- 38.7 percent of those in the statin group and 35.2 percent of those in the placebo group. An analysis 10 years after the trial ended found that the cardiovascular death rate was 8.6 percent for those who started in the statin group, and 10.3 percent for those who started in the placebo group. Over the entire 15-year period, the cardiovascular death rate was 11.8 percent in the statin group and 15.5 percent in the placebo group.

"About 50 percent of the benefits were seen in men no longer taking the drug," Ford said. "We believe that five years of treatment essentially restored damage done by diet, smoking and high blood pressure, stopping the buildup of cholesterol in the arterial wall."

Those benefits were seen in men who originally had LDL cholesterol levels as high as 190, Ford said. Other studies have found benefits from statin treatment in people who weren't at such high risk of cardiovascular problems, h
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