CHOLESTEROL WATCH

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Researchers Find Statin Reverses Heart Disease

Researchers have found what they describe as the bestevidence yet that heart disease can not only be stopped, butreversed. A study in which people saw their low-densitylipoprotein (LDL; "bad"cholesterol) levels reduced to the lowestever seen gives a glimmer of hope to the more than 107 millionAmericans with high cholesterol. Two thirds of the 349participants in the study had regression of coronary arterybuildups when they took the maximum dosage of rosuvastatin(Crestor), already the strongest statin on the market, for2 years. The researchers stated that Crestor skimmed thebuildup of calcium, fat, and other deposits in the patient'sarteries by as much as 9%. The statin also cut LDL levels in theblood by 52.2% and raised the high-density lipoprotein ("good"cholesterol) levels by almost 15%—results unheard of in paststudies. The results of the study were released 3 months agoin the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Treatment Gaps Exist Among Races, Sexes

A recent study of Caucasian, Hispanic, Chinese, and AfricanAmericans in 6 US communities showed that distinct disparitiesexist in the prevalence, treatment, and control of dyslipidemia,a family of cholesterol disorders. The results of the studywere reported in the February 7, 2006, edition of Circulation:Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine inWinston-Salem, NC, reviewed information on 6814 patientswho had participated in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.Of the 6704 patients with complete data, 29% hadcholesterol abnormalities.

Differences in treatment found in the participants includedthe following:

  • Men were more likely than women to qualify for drug therapy,but their cholesterol levels were less likely to be treatedand controlled
  • Compared with non-Hispanic whites, Chinese Americanswere less likely to qualify for drug treatment
  • Gender disparities persisted, even after adjusting for riskfactors, socioeconomic characteristics, and health careavailability
  • African and Hispanic Americans had dyslipidemia prevalencecomparable with that of non-Hispanic whites, yettheir levels were less likely to be treated and controlled

Cholesterol Levels May Rise in Low-carb Dieters

A synthesis of data from 5 previous studies suggests that,although low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets appear to beeffective for weight loss for up to 1 year, low-carb diets maybe connected to higher overall and low-density lipoprotein(LDL) cholesterol levels. The results of this study were publishedin the February 13, 2006, issue of the Archives ofInternal Medicine.

A total of 447 people, average age 45 years, were studied in2 groups, a low-fat diet group and a low-carb diet group. After6 months, the low-carb group was more likely to remain on thediet and had lost more weight than the low-fat group. After 12months, however, blood pressure levels, completion rates, andweight loss were equal for both groups. More importantly, after6 and 12 months, those in the low-carb group had raised totalcholesterol and LDL levels. The researchers did note, however,that the low-carb group also had lower triglyceride levels andhigher high-density lipoprotein levels than the low-fat group.

The researchers noted that "the differences in weight lossbetween the [low-carb] and low-fat diets after 12 monthswere minor and not clinically relevant."In light of this evidence,they concluded that, "in the absence of evidence that[low-carb] diets reduce cardiovascular [CV] morbidity andmortality, such diets currently cannot be recommended forprevention of CV disease."

Red Grapefruit Can Help Reduce Cholesterol

Researchers in Israel have found thatgrapefruit, particularly the deep red StarRuby kind, can help reduce cholesterolin some patients who do not respondwell to statins. The findings of the studywere published in the March 22, 2006,issue of the Journal of Agricultural andFood Chemistry.

The researchers tested 57 patients,aged 39 to 72 years, who had undergonecoronary bypass surgery and had previouslybeen using simvastatin to lowertheir cholesterol levels but found themedicine to be ineffective. These patientswere divided randomly into 3groups: one group ate 1 red grapefruitdaily, one group 1 white grapefruit, andone group no grapefruit at all.Otherwise, all groups consumed thesame daily diet, and none of the participantstook lipid-lowering drugs duringthe course of the study.

After 1 month, there were no differencesin heart rate, blood pressure, orweight in the 3 groups. The group thatate the red grapefruit, however, showedsignificantly reduced levels of triglyceridesin the blood, as well as increasedantioxidant activity (along with the whitegrapefruit group).