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Study supports aggressive treatment of heart patients with cholesterol-lowering medication

03 followed 4,500 patients at 322 medical facilities spanning 41 different countries. Half of the trial participants received higher dosages of statin drugs soon after a heart attack. The second group was given lower dosages of the same medicines after a longer recovery time following a heart attack.

Patients given statin drugs earlier showed modest improvement in the rate of subsequent death, congestive heart failure, heart attack and stroke compared with patients who received a later start of a lower-dose statin regimen.

According to the study, 14.4 percent of patients in the group that got higher dosages of statins soon after a heart attack suffered other cardiac events such as heart attacks and strokes compared to 16.7 percent of patients receiving later intervention with lower dosages of the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

"Until recently, little information was available about the timing of initiating statin drugs after a heart attack," Dr. de Lemos said. "The findings from the A to Z trial suggest that statins can be initiated earlier and in dosages well above the typical starting dose."

Dr. de Lemos also warned that statin drugs must be closely monitored and the dose decreased or discontinued if side effects such as muscle weakness occur. Muscle pain and weakness (myopathy) is an important side effect of statin drugs and was observed in 0.4 percent of patients receiving the highest dose of simvastatin.


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Contact: Katherine Morales
katherine.morales@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
30-Aug-2004


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