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Statin cuts heart risk even in people with normal cholesterol

By Nigel Praities

Rosuvastatin can substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems and death even in patients with normal cholesterol levels, say US researchers.

In a result that could rewrite the way GPs treat cardiovascular risk, a study showed rosuvastatin treatment reduced the risk of heart attack by 54% in people who had normal cholesterol but high levels of the inflammatory marker CRP.

The study, presented at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans yesterday, showed compared to placebo the rosuvastatin group also had a 48% reduction in stroke, 47% reduction in revascularisation or unstable angina and a 20% drop in all-cause mortality.

The authors said the study in 17,802 apparently healthy men and women from 26 countries should ‘dramatically change' guidelines so even people with normal cholesterol levels could receive statin treatment.

Dr Robert Glynn, author of the study and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said: ‘Physicians can no longer assume that patients are at low risk for heart disease simply because they have low cholesterol.

‘We have confirmed that patients with increased CRP are at high risk even if cholesterol levels are low, and we now have evidence that a simple and safe therapy cuts that risk and saves lives,' he said.

Dr Terry McCormack, former chair of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society and a GP in Whitby, North Yorkshire, said he was ‘absolutely amazed' by the results that provided extensive support for using statins in primary prevention.

‘On paper this shouldn't have happened. It will have an impact on guidelines. NICE have to comment on this, it is the least you can expect of them,' he said.

Dr George Kassianos, a GP in Bracknell, Berkshire, and a fellow of the European Society of Cardiology, said the results fitted well with the Government's forthcoming vascular screening programme.

‘This turns everything upside down and calls everything we are doing in the UK into question. We need to be going for primary prevention,' he said.

A lab test for CRP: Rosuvastatin reduced the risk of heart attack by 54% in people who had normal cholesterol but high levels of the inflammatory marker CRP A lab test for CRP: Rosuvastatin reduced the risk of heart attack by 54% in people who had normal cholesterol but high levels of the inflammatory marker CRP

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