Crestor Halts Artery Thickening
Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Stops Progression of Early Artery Disease, Study Shows
March 26, 2007 (New Orleans) -- The statin drug Crestor, already used to
lower levels of bad cholesterol and boost levels of the good kind, also stops
the thickening of arteries in people at low risk of heart attacks and strokes,
according to a new study.
Thickening of arterial walls is a precursor to the buildup of plaque, called
atherosclerosis, that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
"We looked at the effect of this very powerful statin and showed it
halted, or arrested, the progression of thickening of carotid arteries in
low-risk patients," says researcher John R. Crouse III, MD, of the Wake
Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"There was even regression in one of the three segments of the neck
arteries studied," he tells WebMD.
The study, released at the annual meeting of the American College of
Cardiology (ACC), was simultaneously published in The Journal of the
American Medical Association.
Statin Halts Thickening Process
The researchers studied 984 people whose risk of having a heart attack or
stroke over the next 10 years was less than 10%, based on their smoking status,
cholesterol levels, blood pressure, age, sex, and other factors.
About half were given a 40 milligram dose of Crestor and the rest, a
All underwent ultrasounds at the start of the study and about two years
later to determine changes in the thickness of the wall of their carotid
arteries, the arteries that travel up each side of the neck.
Results showed that in people on Crestor, the thickness of the artery wall
dropped by 0.0014 millimeters a year. In contrast, it thickened by about 0.013
millimeters per year in those on placebo.
"In contrast to the significant progression of atherosclerosis in the
placebo group, no significant progression was observed in the [Crestor]
group," Crouse says. However, the difference in thickening between the two
groups was not great enough to conclude that Crestor caused disease
Crestor was also associated with a 49% reduction in bad LDL cholesterol, an
8% increase in good HLD cholesterol, and a 16% reduction in triglyceride
Side effects, the most common of which was muscle aches, were no more
frequent in people taking Crestor than in those on placebo.
A More Powerful Statin Drug
Crouse says the findings add to evidence that Crestor may be a more powerful
drug for modifying heart disease risk than other statins.
“If you look at the history of other statins, this is the most powerful drug
for lowering LDL and it also has these additional attractive qualities of
raising HDL and halting the atherosclerotic process,” he says.
ACC President Stephen Nissen, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at The
Cleveland Clinic, says doctors now would not prescribe Crestor to low-risk
people with normal cholesterol and “one study doesn’t change that.