A new study found that patients who underwent angioplasty benefited from the anti-cholesterol statin drug Lipitor when they received it shortly after their admission to the ER-and before the procedure. The study’s results appear in the March 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
These findings add to the growing body of scientific evidence that statins are beneficial to the heart. Statins are often given to heart-attack patients in order to help prevent a second heart attack or other serious cardiac event. Angioplasty, a procedure which opens blocked arteries, is commonly performed on such patients.
For this study, Italian researchers followed 191 subjects who presented with chest pain at emergency rooms. None of the patients were on a statin drug at the time of admission.
Half of the subjects were given Lipitor within 12 hours before undergoing angioplasty. Of these, only 5 percent died, had a nonfatal heart attack, or needed an additional procedure in the 30-day period following angioplasty. By contrast, 17 percent of subjects who received Lipitor after angioplasty experienced these negative outcomes.
“Even with this short pretreatment, there is improvement in outcomes,” said Dr. Germano Di Sciascio, director of the department of cardiovascular sciences at the University of Rome. Dr. Sciascio led the research team for the study.
“I was not surprised, because we had done other similar studies that have shown a lot of good effects of atorvastatin (Lipitor),” Di Sciascio said. “The most important thing is that even a short treatment works, and it works in the unstable patients going for (angioplasty). Thus, atorvastatin needs to be part of the armamentarium of the interventional cardiologist,” he added.
Di Sciascio pointed out that the study involved a small number of subjects, so further research involving larger numbers of patients is needed. He added, “It is possible that other statins would have the same effect, however, until now, the benefit has been demonstrated only with atorvastatin, which has been the subject of our study.”
According to the American Heart Association, a number of different drugs can lower cholesterol. Statins are a group of drugs which are highly effective at lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels. They work by preventing the formation of cholesterol in the blood. Statins are popular in part because they have few short-term side effects. Widely used statins include: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium), and Zocor (simvastatin).
American Heart Association
Info on statins: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=163