Monday, November 10, 2008

Study Shows Statins Benefit Low-Cholesterol Patients

A new study has shown that common cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins can dramatically reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in patients who already have low cholesterol.

The study, called Jupiter, examined about 18,000 healthy men and women who had normal cholesterol levels but higher-than-normal levels of a type of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance that's a marker of inflammation in the bloodstream, and which has been linked to heart disease.

Jupiter used the commonly used statin drug Crestor, was planned as a four-year test but was stopped after less than two because of the remarkable results. The study, which was funded by the maker of Crestor (Astra-Zeneca), was presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association and appears in The New England Journal of Medicine (Nov. 20th issue).

The significance of the study is that many heart attacks (as many as half of them) take place in people who don't have high LDL (so-called "bad") cholesterol levels or other risk factors for heart disease.

But some experts caution that Crestor and other statins have side effects, and that people should try to lower their risk for heart disease through other means such as diet and exercise before going on a medication that can be expensive and which they may need to take the rest of their lives.

In light of the Jupiter study, WebMD has prepared an article with Crestor questions and answers.

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