The findings, published online today by The Journal of the American Medical Association, show benefits of treating patients who have recently suffered acute coronary syndromes with higher doses of the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins soon after they experience heart-attack symptoms.
Dr. James de Lemos, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, is lead author of the second of a two-part, collaborative international study called the Aggrastat to Zocor study, or A to Z study. Dr. Michael Blazing of the Duke Clinical Research Institute presented the study Aug. 30 at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich, Germany.
The primary objective of the first phase or the "A" phase was to assess the safety and effectiveness of two different forms of clot-preventing drugs enoxaparin and unfractionated heparin in treatment following heart attacks.
The second, or "Z" phase, evaluated two different strategies of treating patients with cholesterol-lowering medicines.
In the past, Dr. de Lemos said, heart-attack patients were stabilized for several weeks or months and placed on low-cholesterol diets before physicians intervened with statin drugs.
"Earlier medical protocols called for patients to receive lower dosages of statins later following a heart attack," said Dr. de Lemos, an investigator in the Donald W. Reynolds Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at UT Southwestern. "We observed trends that suggested an earlier, more intensive cholesterol-lowering regimen was better than a delayed, less-aggressive regimen."