The results of a recent study show that very low levels of low-densitylipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as the "bad" cholesterol,seem to be safe in heart patients who are already takingstatins. These patients can see their LDL levels drop from over 200mg/dL, past the regular target goal of 70 to 80 mg/dL, to as low as40 mg/dL. The results were published in the October 18, 2005, editionof the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, a cardiologist at Brigham andWomen's Hospital in Boston, Mass, and study coauthor, saidthat the researchers "looked at patients who got to ultra-low cholesterollevels and wanted to make sure that was safe." Theyfound that not only was it safe, but it was actually better to havethe levels down near 40 or 50 mg/dL than the previous standardof 70 to 80 mg/dL.
The study involved 1825 patients who were taking statins afterhaving a heart attack or unstable angina. After 4 months of drugtherapy, 91% of the patients reported a drop in cholesterol levelsto below 100 mg/dL. Of these, 11% saw their levels drop below40 mg/dL. Compared with the other groups, patients in this percentagegroup, as well as those whose levels fell between 40 and60 mg/dL, had fewer heart attacks, strokes, cardiac deaths, chestpains, or other heart problems.