It found that among 10,297 patients with hypertension and cholesterol levels lower than currently recommended for treatment, those given the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin suffered significantly less heart attacks and strokes compared to those receiving the placebo treatment.
The International Steering Committee of the independent Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (ASCOT) have stopped the relevant part of the trial and informed fellow investigators, their patients and the regulatory authorities about the newly emerged results.
The rest of the trial, which compares different blood pressure treatment strategies, will continue unchanged.
"The trial shows that patients with high blood pressure but low cholesterol benefit clearly from taking a statin. It is too early to quantify the precise size of the effect, but we expect to see a reduction in heart attacks of about one-third among those taking a statin," say ASCOT study co-chairmen Bjrn Dahlf from the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, stra, Sweden and Peter Sever from Imperial College London, UK.
"However the ASCOT trial still continues and we wish to make it clear to all our patients that this new information does not mean they should stop the tablets they are taking. It is vital that all patients on the trial carry on with their treatment regimens," they add.
All patients will be recalled to visit their ASCOT doctors and will be examined again in the coming weeks
Members of ASCOT's Data Safety Monitoring Board, who work independently of the trial investigators and are the only researchers permitted to look at the results of the five-year old trial while it
Contact: Tony Stephenson
Imperial College London