Health Team

Study: Statins may help prevent strokes, heart attacks in 'healthy' patients

Posted November 13, 2008

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— A new study featured in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that statin drugs may help prevent strokes and heart attacks even in patients who aren't traditionally high risk.

Studies show 50 percent of heart attack patients don't have any of the traditional risk factors of high cholesterol, diabetes or established heart disease.

Researchers followed almost 18,000 patients with normal cholesterol and no history of heart attack or stroke. The patients did, however, have high blood levels of C-reactive protein (or CRP) – a marker for inflammation in the body.

“We've known for quite some time that heart disease, particularly coronary artery disease, is linked with chronic inflammation,” WakeMed cardiologist Dr. Mark Leithe said. Leithe said statins not only lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but also helps inflammation.

The study, funded by the maker of the statin Crestor, found the drug lowered heart attacks by 54 percent, strokes by 48 percent and deaths by 20 percent. There was no increase in serious side effects.

Statins are the most-used prescribed drug in the country. The research may lead to about 7 million more Americans being prescribed these drugs at a cost of $9 billion a year.

Leithe said that in the long term, the drugs could save money on hospitalization, stenting procedures and heart bypass surgery.

Lossie Davis, 66, believes the study proves she’s doing the right thing by taking statins.

“It can prevent having a heart attack,” Davis said.

Five years ago, Davis felt unusually dizzy and went to the hospital. She did not have a heart attack, but learned she did have high blood pressure and cholesterol above 200. Since then, she has started an exercise program and takes a statin drug.

Davis said her cholesterol is at least 40 points lower than before.


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  • See Chart Nov 14, 2008

    Statins may harm muscle tissue , this study indeed was
    paid for by a Statin drug manufacturer kind of funny.
    It's like being a baseball player and umpire
    all at once,you can't lose.
    A study published last year said Statins do not affect the
    number of fatal heart attacks which remain the same on statins
    or not. My mom in law is 92 and eats everything ,cant walk because of bunions and is only on aspirin,she is like a 60 year old with none of these pills. Let's investigate what makes people who are well,well! is not on anything but aspirin and

  • ghines Nov 14, 2008

    "The study was funded by the maker of Crestor"...
    Get real!!! Poor journalism WRAL!
    Statins are legal poison.

  • purplerado Nov 13, 2008

    This is the most insane thing I have ever heard - drug companies are getting anxious about their impending demise and grasping for profits by creating new populations to peddle their poisons to. The real problem is that people are just not willing to take personal responsibility for their health. I don't know about Lossie Davis, but I suspect that many of these people, like the woman they interviewed on TV, are overweight and/or eat a highly acidic diet. Inflammation causes many health problems and it is NOT TRUE that "we don't know what causes inflammation" in the body as the doctor interviewed on TV stated. If people would stop eating so much bread and pasta and sugar, fried foods and other foods prepared with vegetable oil, they wouldn't HAVE inflammation! If they do, vitamins D & E and fish oil and of course changing their diet and getting off their rear end will help. There is no good reason to take a drug if it can be avoided.