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Diet & Health : Heart & Blood Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Statins lower cholesterol, so do omega-3 and red yeast rice
By Sue Mueller
Nov 10, 2008 - 12:32:27 PM

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Vitami.n C Lowers Bloo.d Pressur.e

Monday Nov 10, 2008 ( -- People even with normal range of cholesterol may benefit from taking Crestor, a statin made by Astra-Zeneca, according to a study presented in New Orleans at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.


The 1.9-year study found cardiovascular event like heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from cardiovascular causes was found in 0.9% of statin users had one of these events, compared to 1.8% of placebo users.


The study involved 18,000 apparently healthy men and women who had normal cholesterol levels but higher levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), a risk marker for heart risk.


Nearly half of all heart attacks and strokes occur among people with normal cholesterol levels below which statin treatment is not recommended, reported. The results of the study suggest that taking Crestor may also benefit these apparently normal people.


One another observation is that those who took Crestor during the 1.9 year study had their low density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol and hsCRP lowered by 50 and 37 percent respectively.


The participants had LDL cholesterol levels of less than 130 milligram per deciliter when entering the study and none had diagnosed diabetes or heart disease. They had also 2.0 milligrams per liter or higher of hsCRP.


The participants were at actually higher cardiovascular risk because 1 to 3 milligrams per liter of hsCRP indicates moderate risk of heart disease, Paul M. Ridker, MD, lead author of the study, of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital was cited by as saying.


Both the reduced cardiovascular outcomes and biomarker hsCRP suggest that healthy people with high levels of the marker, but lower cholesterol may benefit from Crestor.   The study also demonstrated that hsCRP levels may be more useful than early thought in assessing heart disease.


Evidence is so much that there has been no doubt that statins can effectively lower cholesterol.   Statins are designed and used to lower cholesterol, but that is not the end goal.   The ultimate goal statins are used to achieve is to reduce cardiovascular risk.


Studies have shown and many prominent experts have agreed that statins are beneficial to those who have underlying conditions that raise their heart risk, but the benefit for those without risk factors is negligible.


For the current trial, some experts still believe that the benefits of Crestor are quite limited for healthy people.


Mayo Clinic cardiologist and American Heart Association past-president Raymond Gibbons, MD, was quoted as telling "there are still unanswered questions about who should take these drugs."


In an editorial published with the study, which was scheduled to appear in the Nov. 20 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, Mark A. Hlatky, MD, of Stanford University wrote cited by that it is still not clear if treating relatively low-risk people with statins for many decades to have a tiny reduction in heart risk is worthwhile.


He suggested that the risk of taking Crestor may outweighs the benefit because in the study one heart attack, stroke or death from cardiac cause would require 120 people to take the drug for 1.9 years and long term use of the drug as well as other stains has side effects in some people.


Crestor is not free of adverse effects. In the current 1.9-year trial, those who were treated with the statin, were at slightly higher risk of diabetes than the controls.   The long term effect could be worse.


Increased risk for diabetes is not the only side effect that people need to be aware of.   One serious adverse effect which is commonly associated with use of any type of statin, is serious muscle damage.


Omega-3 fatty acid and red yeast rice cut cardiovascular disease risk


A health observer suggests that those who want to reduce cholesterol and heart risk may consider some alternatives that have proved to be effective.


One review study conducted by Ong HT and Cheah JS of HT Ong Heart Clinic in Penang, Malaysia and published in the Aug 2008 issue of Chinese Medical Journal showed that omega-3 fatty acids and red yeast rice can effectively prevent clinical cardiovascular events.


Ong and Cheah reviewed prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled studies that involved at least 2,000 patients and were followed up for at least 2 years. They found that modest doses of omega-3 fatty acid reduced sudden death by 45 percent and cardiac death by 35 percent as shown in the 3.5 year GISSI-P study of 11,324 patients.


Another study called JELIS study of 18,645 Japanese patients also showed that high doses of omega-3 through a fish fish diet further reduced risk of non-fatal cardiovascular events by 19 percent.   These patients were already on a statin.


Still another study called CCSPS (4870 patients, follow-up 4 years) showed xuezhikang, a commercial red yeast rice preparation, reduced risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction and coronary death by 46 percent.


Regardless, those who have risk factors such as underlying heart conditions may benefit from taking a statin like Crestor.   In those people, benefits of statins may outweigh risks.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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