Combination drug therapy drastically reduces multiple coronary heart disease risk factors

DALLAS April 12, 2003 Combining two lipid-lowering medications safely and effectively reduces multiple coronary heart disease risk factors, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers.

The researchers combined a low dose of a medication that targets low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or the bad cholesterol, with a second drug therapy that increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good cholesterol. The study involved 20 patients with combined hyperlipidemia, which is primarily characterized by high triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol.

The study, reported in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, found that a specific drug combination low-dose simvastatin (Zocor) and fenofibrate resulted in a 52 percent reduction in triglycerides, a 23 percent increase in HDL and a 28 percent reduction in LDL.

Drug treatment for combined hyperlipidemia presents a challenge because single drug therapy rarely corrects all of the lipoprotein abnormalities observed in this condition, said Dr. Gloria Vega, professor of clinical nutrition and the studys principal investigator. High LDL is a well-established risk factor for coronary heart disease, and high triglycerides and low HDL worsen the risk. Successful management of this condition may require combined drug therapy.

This study provides reasonable evidence that a low dose of a statin plus fenofibrate is a relatively safe and effective drug combination for treating LDL and several emerging risk factors for coronary heart disease. No significant side effects were observed with either the cholesterol-lowering drug alone or with co-administration of the statin and fenofibrate, said Vega.

Dr. Nilo Cater, assistant professor of internal medicine and co-author of the study, said, The rationale for looking into the combination is that there are not only people who have elevations in their LDL, but they also have abnormalities

Contact: Amy Shields
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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