High-Dose Lipitor Reduces Cardiovascular Risk
Patients who took 80 mg of PfizerInc's Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) experiencedfewer heart attacks and strokes.Funded by Pfizer, the 5-year Treating toNew Targets Trial included 10,000patients with heart disease and high low-densitylipoprotein (LDL; "bad") cholesterollevels. The study examinedwhether high-dose Lipitor patients whobattled to lower their LDL-cholesterollevels to under the current 100 mg/dLguidelines would exhibit additional cardiovascularbenefits, compared with Lipitorpatients who kept their LDL readingsat recommended levels.
The study, reported in the New EnglandJournal of Medicine (April 7, 2005), foundthat 80 mg of Lipitor lowered the LDL countto 77, compared with 10 mg, which broughtthe count close to the recommended levelof 100 mg/dL.
The study also showed that the higherdose could reduce heart attack and strokerisk by 22%.
Commenting on the study, researcherDavid D. Waters, MD, said, "We are veryhappy with the results. I'll be writing a lotmore 8s than 1s."
Yet, the researchers noted one troublingfinding. The risk of patients dyingfrom other causes rose slightly. In bothgroups, cancer was responsible formore than half the deaths unrelated toheart disease. The findings indicated 85cancer deaths in the 80-mg group, comparedwith 75 in the 10-mg group. Leadresearcher John LaRosa, MD, however,said that the numbers were too small toreach any conclusion.