Health Watch -- A Potent Combination

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

It may take two drugs to help prevent heart disease for some patients.

One medication may not be enough to prevent heart disease for some people. Cholesterol-lowering drugs may take care of part of the problem without addressing all the risk factors in patients with a condition called hyperlipidemia. People with this condition not only have high LDL cholesterol levels, but they also have high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol and high levels of other kinds of dangerous cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease. Low HDL and high triglycerides make high LDL even more dangerous, but any one medication doesn't solve all of these problems.

Now researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that a combination of drugs effectively addresses all of these risk factors. The researchers tested a combination of a low dose of simvastatin, which lowers LDL without affecting HDL, and fenofibrate, which addresses the other risk factors. Patients took these drugs, in varying combinations, over a nine-month period.

The researchers found that the drug combination was safe, with few side effects, and effective. Patients who were given the drug combination lowered their levels of LDL and triglycerides, while their levels of HDL went up.

Dr. Scott Grundy, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, says the combination drug therapy will most likely be the future treatment for heart disease prevention in people with multiple risk factors.