Crestor FAQ: New Benefits for Statins
Study Shows Crestor May Cut Heart Risk Even When Cholesterol Is Already Low
What happened in the JUPITER study? continued...
Studies suggest that people with CRP levels higher than 3 milligrams per liter have more than twice the risk of heart disease as do people with CRP levels of 1 milligram per liter or lower. JUPITER study participants had a median CRP level over 4 milligrams per liter (and all had CRP levels of 2 milligrams per liter or higher).
Even so, under current treatment guidelines most doctors would not recommend statin treatment for such patients.
Half the study participants received the statin Crestor at a dose of 20 milligrams per day; the other half received an inactive placebo pill. After nearly two years, those taking Crestor had half as many serious cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke, or death from heart disease or stroke) as those in the placebo group.
Risk was not large in either group. Over the two-year period, 1.8% of those in the placebo group and 0.9% of those in the Crestor group had a heart attack or stroke or died of heart disease or stroke. The difference is highly significant, and the safety board overseeing the trial called a halt to the study.
More people in the Crestor group than in the placebo group developed diabetes. It's not clear whether taking Crestor had anything to do with this.
Do the JUPITER findings apply only to Crestor?
Crestor was the only statin drug studied in the JUPITER trial. No similar studies have been completed for other statins.
All members of the statin family have similar modes of action. Some experts believe other statins will have benefits similar to those seen for Crestor in people with relatively low cholesterol levels.
Crestor is one of the strongest statin drugs in terms of its ability to lower cholesterol, but different patients do better with different statins.
I have low cholesterol. Why might I benefit from statins?
A person's cholesterol level is only one factor that contributes to heart disease. Many people have heart attacks despite having low cholesterol levels.
Statin drugs have many effects beyond mere cholesterol lowering. One of these effects is to lower inflammation, which plays a major role in heart disease. Not all the benefits (or risks) of long-term statin use are known, but the drugs clearly lower a person's risk of heart disease.