Statin Benefits Patients With Low Cholesterol
Crestor Users Cut Cardiac Deaths in Half
Statins Benefit "Low-Risk" Patients continued...
About 9,000 study participants were treated with 20 milligrams per day of Crestor and an equal number of participants took a placebo.
When the trial was stopped after a median follow-up of 1.9 years, statin users had lowered their LDL cholesterol by an average of 50% and their hsCRP by 37%.
There were also half as many heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from cardiovascular causes among the participants taking the statin. In all, 0.9% of statin users had one of these events, compared to 1.8% of placebo users.
"This study was designed to identify new groups of patients who could benefit from statin therapy, and it did that," Mayo Clinic cardiologist and American Heart Association past-president Raymond Gibbons, MD, tells WebMD. "There is no question that these findings are robust, but there are still unanswered questions about who should take these drugs."
Stanford University professor of health research and policy Mark A. Hlatky, MD, agrees.
In an editorial published with the study, Hlatky wrote that it is still not clear if the benefits of treating relatively low-risk people with statins for many decades outweigh the risks.
He notes that 120 people with similar risk factors to the people in the study would have to be treated for 1.9 years to prevent one heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiac causes.
The Crestor-treated participants were also slightly more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes during the study than placebo-treated participants.
"We are talking about treating relatively low-risk people with a drug that they will take for the rest of their lives," he tells WebMD. "We can't just say everyone should be treated. Individual risk factors need to be considered."
Expanded Role for hsCRP?
The study raises important questions about the role of high-sensitivity CRP in assessing cardiovascular risk.
The test is increasingly used by cardiologists but has not been considered a routine test for heart disease risk, mainly because its impact on treatment decisions has not been clear.
These findings, along with two other studies presented this weekend in New Orleans, could change this.