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Chest Pain? Statins May Save Heart

Study: Lipitor Can Unclog Arteries Started Soon After Chest Pain
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WebMD Health News

Aug. 23, 2004 -- Even after a person goes to the hospital with chest pain, cholesterol-lowering drugs may prevent heart death or stroke.

If you've been on the moon for the last few years, you might not have heard of statins. There are now five of these cholesterol-lowering drugs on the U.S. market: Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Pravachol, and Zocor. When diet and exercise aren't enough to keep cholesterol levels in bounds, doctors often prescribe statins.

The idea of controlling cholesterol is to keep cholesterol from clogging the arteries. But when a person has chest pain (which doctors call acute coronary syndrome) dangerously clogged arteries often are to blame. There's already some evidence that aggressive treatment with statins can help even these patients avoid heart death and stroke.

Now Shinya Okazaki, MD, of Juntendo University in Tokyo, and colleagues report that Lipitor can unclog the arteries of heart-pain patients. It works even in patients whose bad cholesterol levels aren't dangerously high, they write in the Aug. 31 issue of Circulation.

"Aggressive lipid lowering by statins immediately after acute coronary syndrome onset may be an attractive treatment strategy," Okazaki and colleagues write.

The researchers immediately gave Lipitor 20 milligrams daily to 24 of 48 patients who went to the hospital with chest pain. During their initial hospitalization, the patients had procedures to unclog the narrowed heart artery, which caused the chest pain syndrome. They also had an initial ultrasound of other heart arteries. Six months later, ultrasound showed that those who got the drug had significantly less plaque clogging in their arteries than those who didn't get the drug.Lipitor is made by Pfizer, a WebMD sponsor.

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