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Statins May Worsen Fatigue in Heart Failure Patients
Date:11/3/2009

But no one's suggesting the drugs should be stopped

TUESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Statins may boost the risk of fatigue and shortness of breath in some patients with heart failure, a new study suggests. But a second report found the cholesterol-reducing drugs reduce the risk of clots in those with cardiovascular disease, and experts think the benefits outweigh the risks.

Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California at Los Angeles, said patients shouldn't reconsider their use of the statins based on the results of the small U.S. study.

"Patients with heart failure who have an indication for statin therapy, such as coronary artery disease or diabetes, should remain on physician-prescribed statin therapy," Fonarow said.

At issue is treatment for heart failure, a condition that occurs when the heart fails to beat properly. An estimated 5.7 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath and fluid build-up in the lungs and legs.

"Approximately two-thirds of patients with heart failure have coronary artery disease," Fonarow said. "In these patients, statins, while not improving overall survival, have been shown to lower the risk of a cardiovascular event and decrease the likelihood of being hospitalized. In patients with heart failure but without vascular disease, neither benefit nor harm has been demonstrated in clinical trials of statin therapy."

Researchers at Northeastern University and Massachusetts General Hospital looked at the medical records of 136 patients with heart failure. They wanted to see how statin use, mainly of the drug atorvastatin (Lipitor), affected two types of heart failure -- systolic and diastolic.

Fonarow explained that the heart fails to contract normally in people with systolic heart failure. In those with diastolic heart failure, the heart may not relax properl
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