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Lowering Cholesterol Prevents Heart Attack (Interview with Dr. Stuart Cobbe, MD)
Lowering Cholesterol Prevents Heart Attack (Interview with Dr. Stuart Cobbe, MD)

(October 10, 2007 - Insidermedicine) Men who take the drug pravastatin to lower cholesterol for five years are at lower risk of heart attack for a subsequent 10 years, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This is what we already know about managing cholesterol levels:
•    Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to cardiovascular disease - America’s number one killer
•    Lowering cholesterol levels can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. This involves lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding tobacco
•    Drug therapy is necessary for some people whose cholesterol levels can’t be managed by lifestyle modifications alone. Pravastatin is in a class of medications called statins, which work by slowing the production of cholesterol in the body.

A previous study compared pravastatin with placebo in men with high cholesterol levels who did not have a history of heart attack. The men, whose average age was 55, were treated with the cholesterol-lowering drug for five years. The study demonstrated a reduction in deaths from heart disease and heart attack in the pravastatin group.

In the present study, researchers looked at the survival rate of the same patients approximately 10 years after the trial was completed.

Over the entire follow-up period, the rate of death from heart disease or heart attack was 15% in the placebo group and 12% in the pravastatin group. This is thought to be due to the stability of existing cholesterol deposits within artery walls and a slowing in the progression of coronary artery disease.

Everyone, regardless of their risk factors for heart attack, should aim to keep their cholesterol under control. This involves regular medical check-ups, eating foods low in cholesterol and saturated fat, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and following your healthcare professional’s advice.

For Insidermedicine in Depth, I'm Dr. Susan Sharma.