Benefits of taking statins has been underestimated

The benefits of the cholesterol-reducing drug statins are underestimated and the harms exaggerated, a major review suggests.

Published in the Lancet and backed by a number of major health organisations, it says statins lower heart attack and stroke risk.

The review also suggests side effects such as muscle pain do occur, although in relatively few people.

But critics say healthy people are unnecessarily taking medication.

Statins reduce the build-up of fatty plaques that lead to blockages in blood vessels. According to the report authors:

  • About six million people are currently taking statins in the UK
  • Of those, two million are on them because they have already had a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event
  • The remaining four million take statins because of risk factors such as age, blood pressure or diabetes
  • Up to two million more should possibly take statins

The Lancet review, led by Prof Rory Collins from the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford, looked at the available evidence for the effects of taking an average 40mg daily dose of statins in 10,000 patients over five years.

It suggested cholesterol levels would be lowered enough to prevent 1,000 “major cardiovascular events” such as heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery bypasses in people who had existing vascular disease – and 500 in people who were at risk due to age or other illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

 

Read at BBC News

Sweet drug clears cholesterol, reverses heart disease—and was found by parents

Here’s how parents of kids with rare disease found what may be blockbuster drug.

 

Two parents’ quest to save their twin daughters’ lives from a rare, degenerative genetic disorder may end up saving and improving the lives of millions.

After digging through medical literature and fitting pieces of data together, the non-medically trained couple contacted German researchers and suggested that a chemical called cyclodextrin may be able to treat atherosclerosis—the hardening of arteries with cholesterol-rich plaques, which is a precursor to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

The researchers, Eicke Latz at the University of Bonn and colleagues, followed up on the parents’ hypothesis and found that in mice, cyclodextrin indeed blocked plaque formation, melted away plaques that had already formed in arteries, reduced atherosclerosis-associated inflammation, and revved up cholesterol metabolism—even in rodents fed cholesterol-rich diets. In petri dish-based tests, the researchers found that the drug seemed to have the same effects on human cells and plaques.

The findings, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, suggest that cyclodextrin—a drug already approved for use in humans by the US Food and Drug Administration—may be highly effective at treating and preventing heart disease.

 

Read at ArsTechnica

New Alternatives to Statins Add to a Quandary on Cholesterol

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Doctors have long faced a conundrum in prescribing statins to lower cholesterol and heart attack risk: The drugs are cheap and effective for most people, and large, rigorous clinical trials have found minimal side effects. But as many as 25 percent of those who try them complain of muscle pain. Others stop taking the drugs because, they say, they cause a hazy memory or sleep problems, among other side effects not documented in studies.

Now, with the approval on Thursday of the second in a powerful — and very expensive — new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, the dilemma confronting doctors just got trickier…..

Link to full story at NYT

Extra virgin olive oil linked to lower blood sugar and cholesterol

(Reuters Health) – Compared to other kinds of fat, extra virgin olive oil may have healthier effects on levels of blood sugar and bad cholesterol after meals, according to an Italian study.

That may explain why a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil is linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers say.

“Lowering (post-meal) blood glucose and cholesterol may be useful to reduce the negative effects of glucose and cholesterol on the cardiovascular system,” lead study author Francesco Violi, a researcher at Sapienza University in Rome, said by email.

Violi and his colleagues tested the effect of adding extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to a Mediterranean diet based on fruits, vegetables, grains and fish, with only limited consumption of dairy or red meat.

 

Read full article at Reuters

New cholesterol-lowering drug ‘could halve risk of heart attack, stroke’

Currently, statin therapy is the standard treatment for many patients with high cholesterol. But a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine claims a drug called evolocumab could be much more effective; it reduced cholesterol levels so dramatically that patients’ risk of cardiovascular events – such as heart attack and stroke – fell by more than half, compared with those receiving standard therapy alone.
Around 71 million people in the US have high LDL cholesterol, putting them at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Lead study author Dr. Marc Sabatine, a senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, and colleagues recently presented their findings at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego, CA.

The study was a 1-year extension of 12 phase 2 and 3 clinical trials that had assessed evolocumab’s ability to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol because of the role it plays in blocking the arteries

 

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