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Cholesterol Drug Helps After Angioplasty

According to researchers at the Erasmus University Hospital, a common cholesterol fighting drug, a statin called Lescol or fluvastatin, can reduce the risk of heart complications by up to 20 percent for about 1 million American each year. "This reduction in major heart events -- such as dying of heart disease or suffering another heart attack is quite impressive," said Dr. Patrick Serruys,// professor of interventional cardiology at Erasmus University Hospital, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Serruys, the principal investigator of the Lescol Intervention Prevention Study or LIPS, and his colleagues recruited 1,022 patients from 55 institutions in Brazil, Canada and Europe who had undergone angioplasties to open clogged coronary arteries. Patients were eligible if they had their first angioplasty procedure within the previous six months.

In an angioplasty, a balloon-tipped catheter is guided by X-rays to the site of a main artery blockage that keeps blood from the heart. The balloon is inflated and crushes the blockage to the side of the artery wall to allow for greater blood flow. The correction rarely is permanent, however.

"More than a million Americans under angioplasty or similar procedures each year," Serruys said. "Although angioplasties are highly effective in the short-term, 2 out of every 5 patients will suffer a heart attack or will need to have bypass surgery or another angioplasty within five years."

In reporting the results of the LIPS trial at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta, Serruys said doctors gave patients a placebo or fluvastatin, a proven cholesterol-lowering medication. After about four years of treatment, Serruys found:

* A 22 percent reduction in death, heart attack or requiring another heart procedure, either open heart bypass surgery or another angioplasty.

* Diabetic patients on fluvastatin experienced a 47 percent reduction in the risk of havi
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