Health Watch -- More Statins?

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.

More of a good thing could be an even better thing.

The class of drugs known as statins are among our most powerful cholesterol-fighting tools. Researchers recently announced that they've found higher doses of more powerful kinds of statin drugs can significantly lower the risk of heart attack, chest pain and bypass surgery.

The study compared a standard dose of a first-generation statin drug to a double dose of a more potent later-generation statin drug. Patients taking the higher dose had levels of bad cholesterol drop to 62, compared to a level of 95 on the standard dose. People on the more aggressive therapy also had a 16 percent lower risk of heart attack, chest pain or bypass surgery.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say statins are the most powerful drugs available for lowering cholesterol. These drugs work by stopping the enzyme in the body that produces cholesterol. Dr. Gloria Vega, a UT Southwestern nutrition researcher, says the body needs cholesterol to function, so it then has to take cholesterol out of the bloodstream. With less cholesterol in the bloodstream, plaques are less likely to form in artery walls.

High doses of statins can cause side effects, so don't increase your dose without talking to your doctor.


March 2004