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 placebo.
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 regression.
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 levels.
Side effects, the most common of which was muscle aches, were no more frequent in people taking Crestor than in those on placebo.