Millions of heart attack survivors with seemingly normal cholesterol levels should be put on cholesterol-lowering drugs to help them live longer, a study suggests.
The study, conducted on 4,159 men and women at 80 hospitals in the United States and Canada, was first reported by The Associated Press when it was presented in March at a meeting of cardiologists in Orlando, Fla. The findings were published in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Up to now, these powerful drugs have been limited largely to people with seriously elevated cholesterol. But the latest research suggests hundreds of thousands of deaths and repeat heart attacks could be avoided if the medicines were also prescribed for heart patients with ordinary amounts of cholesterol in their blood.
The study was led by Dr. Frank M. Sacks and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and was paid for by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which makes Pravachol, the medicine tested. Pravachol, known generically as pravastatin, is one of four similar drugs on the market in the United States.