Low-Cost Drugs Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke
Study Shows Generic Statins and Blood Pressure Drugs Cut Risk of Hospitalization
WebMD News Archive
Reducing Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes
The risk reduction in heart attacks and strokes varied by group and how
faithfully participants took the medications.
Compared with the no-exposure group, the low-exposure group (whose members
picked up medicines less than half the time) had a 60% reduction in
hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke.
''People who picked up the medicine more than half the time had more than a
60% reduction in heart attack and stroke in the third year of follow-up," says
Marc Jaffe, MD, director of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California
Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Program, who oversaw more than half the study
Among the 21,292 people in the high-exposure group, there were 545 fewer
heart attacks and strokes. That translates to a reduction in the
hospitalization rate for heart attack or stroke by 26 per 1,000 members
compared to those who had no exposure to the drug.
The approach, Jaffe and Dudl say, focused less on adjusting doses, which
saves time and the number of office visits for doctors and patients. "It was a
focus on starting at a reasonable, fixed dose that would work for most people,"
Jaffe tells WebMD. That dose was adjusted when needed, however, he says.
''The simplicity [of the approach] makes it easier for people to deal with,"
Dudl says. Typically, patients are told to start the drugs at a low dose, then
asked to come back in three or four weeks for monitoring.
Side effects, such as muscle aches with statins, were found in about the
same numbers as in studies in which participants took the drugs separately,
The approach used in the Kaiser study is simple and doesn't require frequent
doctor's office visits or blood tests, says Ravi Dave, MD, a cardiologist at
Santa Monica--UCLA and Orthopaedic Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., and
associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles
David Geffen School of Medicine, who reviewed the study for WebMD.
"This [study] establishes the safety and efficacy of this approach," he
says. "It's good for patients, with their busy lives.''
The study, he adds, also supports the concept of cholesterol lowering in
high-risk patients whose cholesterol levels may be deemed acceptable for the
general population, but not for high-risk people.