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Study Supports Wider Use of Statins
Date:7/1/2009

Data shows reduction in heart attacks, strokes among those without established heart disease

TUESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- An analysis of studies supports a growing belief that guidelines for prescribing cholesterol-lowering statin drugs should be expanded to include healthy people without established heart disease, cardiologists say.

The meta-analysis of 10 trials involving more than 70,000 participants found that statin therapy reduced overall mortality by 12 percent, major coronary events by 30 percent and strokes by 19 percent.

It supports the findings of the JUPITER trial, reported last year, which noted 54 percent fewer heart attacks and 48 percent fewer strokes among people taking a statin who had normal cholesterol levels but high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, said Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, a member of the international team reporting on the meta-analysis in the BMJ online.

The analysis shows that "the more risk factors you have, the more aggressive you should be, and the lower the cholesterol level you should consider using statins for," Gotto said.

Primarily as a result of the JUPITER trial, the U.S. National Institutes of Health has announced that it will review the guidelines for prescribing statins, Gotto said. Those guidelines now focus on reducing elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, the "bad" kind that clogs arteries.

The increased benefit of statins is believed to be due to their anti-inflammatory activity, Gotto said.

The meta-analysis was undertaken before the JUPITER results were reported, Gotto said, because "there was a push against statin use in primary prevention in women and the elderly." Primary prevention is aimed at people who have cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but have not been diagnosed with heart disease.

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