CHOLESTEROLWATCH

Published Online: Thursday, May 1, 2008

Lowering LDL Reduces Second Stroke Risk

A post-hoc analysis of data from the Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels trial suggests that intensive lowering of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels after an initial stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) could significantly reduce the risk of a second stroke or TIA without an increase in brain hemorrhages. The information was gathered from 55,045 LDL measurements taken from 4731 patients who were taking part in the trial over the course of an average of about 5 years.

In this new analysis, researchers from Bichat University Hospital in Paris and trial scientists evaluated the benefits and risks associated with achieving at least a 50% reduction from baseline LDL levels. They found that, compared with no change or an increase in LDL levels, patients who experienced a 50% or greater reduction in LDL levels also had a 31% reduction in stroke risk, a 33% reduction in ischemic stroke, and a 37% reduction in major coronary events. The findings were published in the December 2007 issue of Stroke.


Diabetics Could Benefit from Statins

New research has shown that patients with diabetes could benefit from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, even if they have not yet developed signs or symptoms of vascular disease. Statins have been credited with various health benefits. Information on their effects on diabetes patients, however, had been limited until recently. The new findings were published in the January 12, 2008, issue of The Lancet.

Researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom collaborated with scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia to study the effects of statins in a total of 18,686 patients with diabetes who had taken part in previous statin trials. They compared these results with those from 71,370 patients without diabetes who also took part in the same trials. The researchers found that statins reduced the risks of vascular disease in a variety of patients with diabetes, a population at much greater risk than similarly aged patients without the disease. They found that a standard statin regimen prevented about one third of heart attacks and strokes in diabetic patients.


It Really IS the Right Thing to Do: The Benefits of Oatmeal

Wilford Brimley knew his breakfast cereal. As he told America in the popular TV ads, oatmeal does have a significant effect in lowering cholesterol levels—even more so than previously thought, according to recent studies.

Researchers found that studies conducted over the past 15 years have proven the beneficial effects of oatmeal consumption on cholesterol levels, including the lowering of total cholesterol levels and the reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels without adversely affecting the levels of high-density lipoproteins or triglycerides. The findings were published in the January/February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

The researchers presented a modern analysis to determine if more recent studies were consistent with the findings that led the FDA to approve the listing of the health benefits of oatmeal on food labels in 1997. The newer information showed that, when whole-grain oats are incorporated into a lifestyle management program, other health benefits included lowering the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain; lowering LDL levels during weight loss; and helping fend off early hardening of the arteries.


Statins Lower Mortality in Seniors with Heart Disease

According to a meta-analysis, treatment with statins can lower 5-year mortality in patients aged 65 years and older with coronary heart disease by >20%.

The meta-analysis included 9 randomized, placebo-controlled trials involving 19,569 patients, aged 65 to 82 years, who were followed for an average of 5 years. The researchers found that rates of all-cause mortality were 15.6% with statins, compared with 18.7% with placebo. Furthermore, they found that statins reduced coronary heart disease mortality by 30%, nonfatal myocardial infarction by 26%, need for revascularization by 30%, and stroke by 25% in the same population.

In an editorial on the findings, cardiologists at UCLA have noted, however, that statin use in the elderly with heart disease has ?stagnated? at between 40% and 60%, even though the medicines have been proven ?remarkably safe? and ?cost-effective? in these patients. The data were published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

F A S T   F A C T : Quitting smoking can help increase high-density lipoprotein levels by as much as 4 mg/dL.




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