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Statins that are routinely used to lower cholesterol levels appear to improve idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC), a disease of the heart that results in an enlarged heart that does not pump properly. Although there is no known cause for IDC, it is the number-1 reason for heart transplants.
In order to see whether statins helped patients with IDC, the researchers studied the effects of 14 weeks of statin therapy in 48 patients with IDC. The results of the study, published recently in Circulation, found that treatment with simvastatin modestly reduced total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels without altering triglyceride or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Also, patients who received the drug were more likely to show improvement in how their heart pumped, compared with patients left untreated.
Because it is unknown whether statins actually improve survival, the researchers do not recommend these drugs solely to treat heart failure until further studies address the issue.