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Statins May Up Heart Failure Survival

Large Study Shows 24% Lower Risk of Heart Failure Death With Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 31, 2006 - Taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs cuts a heart failure patient's risk of death by 24%, according to a large new study.

The findings are based on an analysis of data on 24,598 people with heart failure by Alan S. Go, MD, of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, and colleagues.

The new study echoes previous, smaller studies that suggest the popular statin drugs can play a role in surviving heart failure.

Statin drugs include Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Zocor. The drugs have a powerful cholesterol-lowering effect.

But they may help heart failure patients in other ways -- perhaps by encouraging the growth of new blood vessels or by reducing inflammation.

Heart failure is as scary as it sounds. Over the 2.4 years of the Go team's study, a third of the patients died.

But after accounting for death risks -- including cholesterol level -- the researchers found that patients who took statins were 24% less likely to die than those who did not take the drugs. They were also less likely to be hospitalized.

Go and colleagues warn that their study does not prove statins benefit heart failure patients. Such proof can come only from clinical trials, and two clinical trials of statin drugs are under way.

The findings appear in the Nov. 1 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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