FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A new study debunks the idea
that the cholesterol-fighting drugs known as statins work better in
people with high levels of a certain protein and may not work at
all in those with low levels.
Researchers found that the drugs work the same -- at least in
heart patients, older men with high blood pressure and diabetics --
regardless of the results of a test that looks for concentrations
of so-called C-reactive protein.
"The bottom line is, if you have vascular disease or diabetes, you will derive substantial benefit from statin treatment," said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a cardiology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the research.
However, Fonarow said, the findings do not say whether levels of
the protein will affect the effectiveness of the drugs in healthy
According to Fonarow, research suggests that statins reduce the
risk for heart disease "events" -- such as a heart attack -- by 24
percent to 52 percent. "The cardiovascular benefits of statins
extend to men and women, old and young, and even to patients with
baseline LDL-cholesterol levels lower than 100 milligrams per
deciliter [mg/dcl]," he said. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein
cholesterol, is the type that causes plaque to form, narrowing
Some research has linked levels of C-reactive protein to better
or worse effectiveness. In the new study, researchers in the United
Kingdom assigned 20,536 men and women at high risk for heart
problems to take either the statin Zocor (simvastatin) or a placebo
for an average of five years.
The study, published online Jan. 28 in
The Lancet, found no link between levels of the protein and benefits from the drug. Even people with low levels of LDL cholesterol and the protein -- those thought to perhaps be immune to the drug's effects -- showed benefits.
In the big picture, Fonarow said, people shouldn't worry about
levels of the protein in their bodies.
"Patients interested in their cardiovascular health should be most focused on achieving healthy LDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight levels along with engaging in daily exercise, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke," he said.
The study was partially funded by Merck, which makes Zocor.
The American Heart Association has more about