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Cholesterol Drug Helps After Angioplasty

ng a serious cardiac event.

* Patients with atherosclerosis or disease in more than one coronary artery who were taking fluvastatin experienced a 34 percent reduction in serious events.

* Patients who were on fluvastatin saw their low density lipoprotein or LDL -- the so-called bad cholesterol -- fall from about 131 milligrams per deciliter at the start of the trial to 99.1 mg/dL.

Dr. Ira Nash, associate director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, said getting LDL cholesterol below 100 is one of the goals of the National Cholesterol Education Program. He also said treatment with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs has been shown to have additional benefits to patients aside from lowering cholesterol -- which is known to help reduce heart attack risk.

"This study may get the attention of the interventional cardiologist," said Dr. Roger Blumnethal, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins Univeristy, Baltimore, Md. "Often the interventionalist leaves the prescribing of statin medication to the primary care doctor and sometimes that addition to the patient's regimen falls through the cracks."

Interventional cardiologists most often perform angioplasties. "I think this and other new studies will go a long way in improving the quality of care of all patients with coronary artery disease," he said. Serruys said the researchers used the drug fluvastatin because it has a proven safety record as patients would be expected to continue taking the drugs for many years, possible for a lifetime. He said other statins, including more potent cholesterol-lowering agents, might not have as solid a safety record.

In LIPS, he said there were no indications of any worrisome liver abnormalities or muscle problems seen with other statin drugs. The study was supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Basel, Switzerland, the manufac
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