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Cholesterol & Triglycerides Health Center

Drugs for Bone Loss May Also Help the Heart

Study Shows Patients Taking Combination of Didronel and Lipitor Have Fewer Heart Attacks
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 28, 2011 -- An early report of a new study shows that the first-generation bisphosphonate, Didronel, in combination with the cholesterol drug Lipitor reduced abdominal aortic plaques by about 12% in people with high cholesterol, compared to 1% in people on Lipitor alone.

Those in the combination-therapy group also had fewer serious heart events over two years, like heart attacks, procedures to open clogged arteries, hospital admissions, and deaths from heart disease, than those who took Lipitor alone.

Didronel is FDA-approved to treat osteoporosis and Paget’s disease, which causes bones to form abnormally, making them enlarged and brittle.

Didronel is “a first-generation bisphosphonate, and it has weaker therapeutic ability in inhibiting bone resorption, but stronger ability in preventing vascular calcification, than that of newer generation bisphosphonates,” says study researcher Tetsuya Kawahara, MD, of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s 2011 Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Scientific Sessions in Chicago. Experts say it adds to a growing body of research suggesting that bisphosphonate drugs, particularly the older, non-nitrogen containing bisphosphonates, may also help treat heart disease.

“There have been some other, smaller studies done that have looked at carotid artery thickness in response to bisphosphonates, and it was shown that bisphosphonates reduce the thickness of the carotid artery,” says Ravi Dave, MD, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Now, with the aging of the population that is at risk for having all these plaques, we need to put them on Lipitor and they’re also on bisphosphonates, it’s an added sort of benefit for these patients,” says Dave, who was not involved in the research.

But other experts caution that the research is too preliminary to act on, saying that larger, better-controlled studies are needed before bisphosphonates can be considered a valid treatment for heart disease.

Some studies have also suggested that bisphosphonates may be linked to atrial fibrillation, or disturbance of the heart’s pumping rhythm.

Bone Drugs and Atherosclerosis

The study followed 251 people who had high cholesterol with no other symptoms.

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Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

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