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    Crestor May Not Cut Heart Failure Death

    But Crestor, a Statin Drug, May Curb Hospitalizations in Heart Failure Patients
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Nov. 28, 2007 -- Crestor, a statin drug that lowers LDL ("bad") cholesterol, may not reduce heart deaths in heart failure patients.

    Researchers report that news after studying some 5,000 heart failure patients in Europe, Russia, and South Africa.

    The findings appear in tomorrow's edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

    Crestor and Heart Failure

    The heart failure patients in the Crestor study were at least 60 years old (average age: 73). They had a type of heart failure called ischemic heart failure.

    Ischemic heart failure weakens the heart's pumping ability. It's due to coronary heart disease, which affects the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle.

    During the study, the patients kept taking their usual drugs for heart failure and other conditions.

    Half of the patients also took Crestor, which lowers LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.

    For comparison, the other patients took a placebo pill along with their other medications. The patients didn't know if they were taking Crestor or the placebo.

    Typically, patients stayed with the study for nearly three years.

    Death and Hospitalization

    Cardiovascular deaths, nonfatal heart attacks, and nonfatal strokes were equally common in both groups during the study.

    But hospitalizations -- especially for heart-related reasons -- were rarer in patients taking Crestor than in those taking the placebo.

    Side effects weren't more common in patients taking Crestor.

    "The drug did not cause safety problems," write the researchers, who included John Kjekshus, MD, PhD, of Norway's University of Oslo.

    Reasons Unclear

    Kjekshus and colleagues aren't sure how to explain the results.

    Crestor did cut the patients' LDL cholesterol levels. Triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation linked to heart disease) also fell in the Crestor group.

    The placebo group showed none of those benefits.

    The researchers suggest that the study may have been too short to show a drop in heart-related deaths -- or that the patients were too frail at the study's start for Crestor to have cut death rates.

    AstraZeneca, the drug company that makes Crestor, funded the study.

    This study only included Crestor, so it remains to be seen if the findings apply to other statins, observes cardiologist Frederick Masoudi, MD, MSPH, in an editorial published with the study.

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