Statins Provide Heart Benefits Beyond Cholesterol Lowering

JUNE 01, 2017
Jennifer Barrett, Assistant Editor
The benefits of statins may be more far-reaching than previously thought, according to research presented at EuroCMR 2017 last week. Although statins are primarily used to lower cholesterol, the medication has other beneficial, non-cholesterol lowering effects that can prevent cardiovascular events in patients who have had a heart attack or are at risk for heart disease.
 
In the study, researchers investigated the association between statins and heart structure and function among 4622 participants. Nearly 17% of participants were taking statins, and these individuals were more likely to be older, have higher BMI and blood pressure, and have diabetes and hypertension.
 
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure heart volumes and mass and information regarding statin use was obtained from medical records and a self-reporting questionnaire.
 
The researchers determined that stains can improve the function of blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and stabilize fatty plaques in the blood vessels. Statin use was linked to a 2.4% lower left ventricular mass and lower left and right ventricular volumes. Those taking statins were also less likely to have a thickened heart and a large heart chamber, which is often indicative of future heart attack, heart failure, stroke risk. Statins also appeared to reverse the negative changes in the heart.
 
“It is important to note that in our study, the people taking statins were at higher risk of having heart problems than those not using statins, yet they still had positive heart remodeling compared to the healthier control group,” lead author Nay Aung, cardiologist, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London UK, said in a press release.
 
Dr. Aung concluded that a dual approach should be considered to identify individuals who will benefit most from statins, which means looking at both clinical risk factors and genetic factors that can predict an individual’s response to statins as well.
 
Reference
 
Statins associated with improved heart structure and function [news release]. Prague. ESC’s website. https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Statins-associated-with-improved-heart-structure-and-function. Accessed May 30, 2017. 
 

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