Features January 2009 Issue

Statin Therapy May Do Much More Than Lower Cholesterol

Research shows statins can lower the odds of cardiovascular events among low-risk heart patients, but the drugs aren’t for everyone.

The cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins have been in the news again in recent months, following the landmark JUPITER (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin) trial, in which the medications were found to cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes in half, even among people with low levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad" cholesterol). But Leslie Cho, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic, says it’s important that the study results not be interpreted as evidence that everyone needs to begin statin therapy, regardless of their cholesterol levels. Dr. Cho points out that the study participants were specifically selected because they had some risk factors—particularly elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a sign of inflammation in the body. She adds that the average age of the study participants was 66 and that 41 percent of the people in the study had metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and elevated CRP.

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