Statin lowers risk

Statin Crestor lowers risk of
deep-vein clots without bleeding
By Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY 3/29/09

ORLANDO — Researchers have shown for the first time that a potent cholesterol-
lowering drug, Crestor, reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis, or "economy-class
syndrome," caused by potentially lethal blood clots that start in the veins and migrate to
the lungs, sometimes after long flights.
The evidence, out today, is the latest to emerge from the landmark JUPITER trial, which
showed that statin treatments can cut in half the risk of heart attacks and strokes even in
people with normal cholesterol levels.
No other medicine has been shown to safely prevent these blood clots, which occur in at
least 350,000 people a year and kill as many as 100,000 of them. The standard remedy
once thrombosis has occurred is the drug warfarin, which, unlike statins, can promote
BETTER LIFE: Get the latest news on heart health
Statins are "a remarkably benign therapy," says senior investigator Paul Ridker of
Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "The thing that's really exciting is that there is
no bleeding risk."
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JUPITER, released in November, showed that Crestor can prevent heart attacks and
strokes in people with normal cholesterol levels — LDL levels of 130 milligrams a
deciliter or below — and high levels of C-reactive protein, an ominous sign of artery
inflammation. About half of the people who suffer from heart attacks each year have
normal cholesterol levels.
Other studies have hinted that statins also reduce clot formation, but their power to
prevent deep vein thrombosis was unknown. Ridker and his co-workers decided to use
JUPITER to test the theory. A total of 17,802 people were randomly assigned to
treatment and placebo groups. They were followed for nearly two years, on average.
Deep vein thrombosis occurred in 34 patients taking Crestor and 60 people who were taking placebos, indicating that treatment reduced the risk of clots by 43%. Ridker says he believes that other statins would also reduce the risk. Lead investigator Robert Glynn, also of Brigham and Women's, calculated that doctors would need to treat 18 people to prevent one event, whether it's a heart attack, stroke or deep vein thrombosis. Mark Hlatky of Stanford University says that life-long statin therapy is the most expensive way to reduce heart risk, especially using potent brand-name versions, which cost up to $4 a day. The costs decrease to about $1 a day using generics, he says, but they are not as potent as newer drugs. The study was released at a scientific meeting of the American College of Cardiology here and in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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