Feb 10, 2009 | 1
Cholesterol-lowering statins are the best-selling class of drugs in the country. But as their pool of takers has expanded, critics have complained that the meds, while effective in reducing heart attacks and strokes, haven’t been proved to save lives.
But new research, published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine, indicates that statins do, in fact, reduce the risk of dying for both people with heart disease and for those who are taking the drugs because their cholesterol is elevated. (Not everyone who suffers a heart attack has high cholesterol, so prescribing statins just because a person's levels are high is controversial.)
Nov 13, 2008 | 4
Stephen Colbert does not have an MD. But he apparently has a keen understanding of clinical trials, perhaps because of his DFA – doctor of fine arts.
Colbert—or should we say Dr. Colbert?—reviewed the results of the JUPITER trial last night in the latest installment of “Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA.” That trial, you may recall, suggested that even people with normal cholesterol levels may benefit from the drug Crestor (rosuvastatin), if their C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (inflammation markers) were high.
Colbert’s analysis cut right to the chase: “This is a great breakthrough in the battle to find things to prescribe to people who don’t need them.”
Nov 13, 2008 | 1
It's been a frustrating discrepancy in health for more than a decade: Young women who suffer heart attacks and go to the hospital for treatment have been twice as likely to die as young men. Now, that gender gap is narrowing.
Women under 55 are about 30 percent more likely to die in the hospital after having a heart attack than their male peers, according to research presented yesterday at the American Heart Association conference in New Orleans.
Between 2005 and 2006, 2.4 percent of women under 55 died, a drop from the 5.1 percent who died in 1994 to 1995. Between 2004 and 2006, 1.8 percent of men younger than 55 died in the hospital after experiencing heart attacks, compared with 2.7 percent in 1994 to 1995.
Nov 10, 2008 | 18
Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are already blockbuster medicines taken by 30 million people around the world. Now it turns out you still might need them if you have normal cholesterol. There’s a new risk factor in town: A protein associated with inflammation.
Taking the statin Crestor, also known as rosuvastatin, slashed the risk of heart attack by more than half in nearly 18,000 people with increased levels of the protein, called high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), according to research presented yesterday at the annual American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans. The drug reduced the chance of stroke and the need for a stent – a mesh tube propping open the heart’s blood vessels — by nearly 50 percent. It also lowered the risk of death by 20 percent. The research, funded by Crestor maker AstraZeneca, is in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
Sep 15, 2008 | 1
Just a couple of years ago, statin discoverer Akira Endo was tackling his elevated cholesterol by exercising more. But the Japanese scientist who won this year's prestigious Lasker Award has drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid.
"Five years ago, my cholesterol levels were at 230-240 mg/dL. My doctor has been asking me to take a statin," Endo tells us in an e-mail. "Now, I am taking a statin drug twice or three times a week. It is very effective."
People with cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL are considered to be at low risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association; 200-to-239 mg/dL is considered borderline-to-high risk, and 240 or above is deemed high risk. Doctors recommend statins for people without known coronary disease whose LDL, or "bad" cholesterol is 190 mg/dL or higher, the heart association says. Those at higher risk can start the drugs even if their LDL levels are lower.
Sep 13, 2008 | 2
A Japanese scientist who discovered an obscure cholesterol-fighting fungus will be awarded "America's Nobel" for his contribution to today's blockbuster statin drugs.
Akira Endo, 74, will receive the Lasker Award and its $300,000 prize on Sept. 25 in New York. Some 75 Lasker awardees have gone on to win Nobels.
In 1973, after sifting through 6,000 fungi, Endo hit upon a purified form of Penicillium citrinum as a fungus that blocked reductase, an enzyme that produces cholesterol. Endo and a colleague started giving it to animals and humans, ultimately finding that it reduced LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, by 27 percent, according to a press release. Drug giants including Merck (which in the 1970s had an agreement with Sankyo, the Japanese company Endo was working for), Pfizer and others went on to produce statins, which are now the world's second-most commonly prescribed medicines after cancer drugs, according to IMS Health. Pfizer's Lipitor is the top-selling statin in the U.S., with sales last year of $13.5 billion; statins overall were a $33.7 billion industry in 2007, IMS says.
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