Cholesterol Drugs Cut Risk of Clots, Too
Study Shows Crestor Reduces Risk of Venous Thromboembolism
March 30, 2009 (Orlando, Fla.) -- In the latest study to show that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are good for more than just the heart, daily therapy with the statin drug Crestor cut the risk of blood clots in the veins by more than 40%.
The benefits of stains in warding off a condition called venous thromboembolism (VTE) emerged from a new analysis of data in the landmark JUPITER study. The study showed that the drugs halve the risk of major cardiovascular events for people with normal cholesterol levels but high levels of a blood marker of inflammation called CRP.
"When statins were first introduced, we only knew that they prevented heart attacks. Then, we found they reduce the risk of stroke, too. Now we have the added benefit of reducing the risk of VTE as well," says researcher Robert J. Glynn, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
About 600,000 Americans develop VTE each year, and 100,000 die. VTE includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in which clots form in the deep veins, often in the legs, and pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal condition in which blood clots travel through veins to the lungs.
Treatments to reduce the risk of VTE include blood-thinning drugs, like the anticoagulant Coumadin. But many people can't take Coumadin for medical reasons, including an increased risk of bleeding.
In contrast, statins carry "no bleeding hazard at all," says JUPITER trial chairman Paul Ridker, MD, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
While no one is sure exactly how statins lower clot risk, Glynn says they may act as an anticoagulant.
Claudio Schuger, MD, a heart specialist at Wayne State University in Detroit, says that while only Crestor was studied, other statin drugs probably also confer protection against VTE. Schuger was co-chair of the committee that chose which studies to highlight at the meeting.
But people shouldn't take statins just for their VTE-preventing properties, Schuger tells WebMD.
Reduction in VTE Risk
JUPITER involved 17,802 apparently healthy men and women with LDL "bad" cholesterol levels of less than 130 milligrams per deciliter and moderately elevated high-sensitivity CRP levels of 2 milligrams per liter or higher.