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Study Suggests a Wider Use for Statins
Date:9/22/2009

Drugs could help those who only have high levels of inflammation, experts say

TUESDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Statins could be as beneficial for people with acceptable cholesterol readings but high levels of inflammation as they are for those with high cholesterol levels, a new analysis finds.

An earlier study of more than 17,000 participants, known as the JUPITER trial, found that rosuvastatin (Crestor) cut the risk for serious vascular problems in people whose cholesterol levels were not high while high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels were.

CRP is a protein that increases during whole-body inflammation, and testing its levels has become an additional way to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease.

"The JUPITER trial demonstrated that rosuvastatin, when given to apparently healthy men and women with low cholesterol but increased hs-CRP, reduced heart attack by 55 percent, stroke by 48 percent, angioplasty and bypass surgery by 46 percent and all-cause mortality by 20 percent -- all highly significant -- and did so in the absence of major side effects," said Dr. Paul Ridker, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a member of the JUPITER Study Group. He is the lead author of the new analysis, which is published online Sept. 22 and in the November issue of Circulation: Cardiology Quality and Outcomes.

The new analysis takes the study results a step further, attempting to interpret them in practical terms -- to evaluate whether the absolute risk reduction justifies wider prescribing of the statins.

Ridker and his colleagues calculated the absolute risk reduction and also used an epidemiological measure called "number needed to treat." That measure looks at the number of people who would need to be treated to prevent one additional bad outcome.

The JUPITER participants all had acceptable LDL
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