Thursday, November 13, 2008

Statins: the Aspirin of the 21st century?

From CBC News:
They're the best-selling family of drugs of all time, with annual worldwide sales estimated at more than $20 billion. Every year, Canadian doctors write more than 12 million prescriptions for statins, making them the most-prescribed drugs in the country. They're in a class of drugs that has proven very effective at lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart attacks.

The possible effectiveness of statins is so great that surprised researchers reported in November 2008 they have stopped a four-year study two years early in order to present their findings as soon as possible on the drugs' benefits to patients.

The study, which followed nearly 18,000 patients from 27 different countries, found the strongest evidence yet that people with high levels of a particular protein are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It also found that the risk dropped by nearly half for patients treated with statins.

All the patients had normal levels of cholesterol (LDL-c) and high levels of hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) — previously suspected, but not confirmed, to be a critical indicator of heart problems — and as such were not receiving any treatment for cardiovascular disease. ...more

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