Lipid Therapy Helps After Heart Surgery

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Statins may not only benefit patients diagnosed with heart disease. The results of a new study, recently reported in the American Heart Journal, suggested that the benefit of statin use extends to patients who have recently undergone surgery or angioplasty to treat their disease. To determine whether statins work in surgery or angioplasty patients, the researchers looked at the impact of cholesterol-lowering therapies in all 11,958 patients over age 65 who had coronary bypass surgery or angioplasty between 1995 and 1997.

The investigators found that, during 3 years of follow-up, 1288 patients died, 810 had new heart attacks, and 1528 had a second operation to open the coronary blood vessels. The results of the study showed a 34% decreased risk of death and a 23% lower risk of heart attack in patients taking statins following surgery or angioplasty. Statins, however, were not connected with a reduction in the need for repeat surgery or angioplasty.

"The issue of cholesterol-lowering drugs in the elderly is assuming increasing importance as the population ages and [surgery and angioplasty] rates in this segment of the population expand. In the enthusiasm for [these procedures], the benefits of these drugs shouldn't be forgotten," said researcher James M. Brophy, MD, PhD.