-- Alan Mozes
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Cholesterol-lowering
statins could go a long way toward protecting against heart disease
among patients who are deemed to have an "intermediate risk" for
cardiovascular trouble, a new study suggests.
The finding specifically applies to those men and women who,
despite having normal cholesterol levels, have high levels of a
protein linked to inflammation (the so-called high sensitivity
C-reactive protein, or "hsCRP"), and bear a 5 percent to 20 percent
risk for developing heart disease within 10 years.
For such individuals, a regimen of statins could lower their
risk for stroke and/or heart attack by more than 40 percent, the
Study author Dr. Paul Ridker, director of the Center for
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women's Hospital
in Boston, reports his team's observations in the Aug. 24 issue of
Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
The American Heart Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention both recommend hsCRP testing for patients
with an intermediate risk for heart disease.
Statin drugs can be effective at lowering hsCRP levels as well
as cholesterol, the study authors noted.
To arrive at their assessment, Ridker and his colleagues
re-analyzed already-collected data from a large statin study that
included men over the age of 50 and women over the age of 60 who
were prescribed rosuvastatin (Crestor) at a dosage of 20
Using standard measures for assessing risk based on factors such
as age, gender, smoking, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the
study authors determined that statins cause heart disease risk to
drop by 45 percent among patients with a 10-year risk of between 5
percent and 10 percent, which tends to include more women than
Those facing an even higher decade-long risk (between 11 percent
and 20 percent) saw that risk drop by nearly 50 percent, the study
Those with a less than 5 percent risk for heart disease did not
seem to benefit from statin use, however.
Dr. Donald Smith, director of lipids and metabolism at the
Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York
City, said the findings could lead to a significant shift in
screening protocols for some groups.
"This potentially could change guidelines as to how you screen and treat those men and women in this particular age population, which is over the age of 50 in men and 60 in women. So, this does not apply to the whole population, and that's important to point out."
"But in this age group, among people with moderate risk for heart disease, getting a C-reactive protein screening just to see what's going on could be very helpful," Smith added. "Because this study shows that if that level is high -- even if their LDL is still very low -- they can benefit from statins."
Dr. Pamela Ouyang, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine, cautioned that no conclusions should
be drawn regarding other types of statins, or prescription regimens
using dosages lower than those used in the study.
Still, she said in an American Heart Association news release
that the "study provides important information indicating the
groups of men and women who have high CRP and normal LDL
cholesterol that could benefit from statin treatment."
Ridker is a co-inventor on patents held by the Brigham and
Women's Hospital related to the use of inflammatory biomarkers in
cardiovascular disease that have been licensed to the drug
companies Siemens and AstraZeneca, according to the news
To learn more about statins, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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