Local News

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Could Help Save Heart Attack Victims' Lives

Posted October 5, 2005 4:38 a.m. EDT

— Years of weight gain and lack of exercise caught up to Carl Cayton 15 years ago when he had his first heart attack. Last year, Cayton went into cardiac arrest.

Now, at age 61, Cayton hopes to avoid any more heart problems with exercise, healthy eating and a drug regimen that includes cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, which lower the blood's bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.

"My cholesterol has been significantly lowered," Cayton said. "It's way below normal or average."

Cayton's statin therapy helps prevent future heart attacks.

But according to a

recent study

by the Mayo Clinic, an immediate dose of statins at the onset of a heart attack could also help reduce patients' chances of death by half -- even if it is not in their drug regimen.

"Statins should be started within the first 24 hours (of a heart attack) and, preferentially, as soon as a patient presents to the hospital with a heart attack," said WakeMed cardiologist Dr. Ravish Sacher.

While most heart patients take a low dose of aspirin to prevent heart attacks, aspirin and statins work differently. Statins control cholesterol whereas aspirin thins blood, making it less likely to clot.

"They're both good for treatment at the time of a heart attack or for prevention of future heart attacks in high-risk patients," Sacher said.