Zetia Lowers Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke
After almost 10 years, the results of a long-awaited clinical study has proven that cholesterol drug Zetia of Merck & Co is capable of reducing heart attack risk when it is used together with statin.
The study was conducted worldwide on 18,000 heart patients using Zetia, an ezetimibe, plus simvastation as compared to treatments with only simvastatin. LDL cholesterols levels, which is singled out as a critical cause in the development of a cardiovascular problem, decreased by 54 on average.
A 6% reduction in all cardio events, though a modest benefit in high-risk patients, is significant enough. This is the first time that it was proven that the addition of a cholesterol fighter non-statin to the already effective statin will reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular disease.
The resuting data proves that Zetia -- which is already widely used for 12 years for its
LDL-reduction capability -- offers a significant protection to several patients. It also supports the hypothesis that a lower LDL cholesterol is beneficial.
Zetia works by preventing dietary cholesterol from being absorbed in the gut, which is different from statins that prevent cholesterol production in the liver. Its presumed lack of effect on the arteries was seen as a challenge to the initial hypothesis that a lower LDL will reduce heart risk.
Dr. Christopher Cannon of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston is the lead author of the study presented in Chicago last week. He said, "One of our goals was to test if even lower LDL even better, and the answer is yes. We have a zillion trials showing statins reduce events... our conclusions are that, yes, a non-statin lowering of LDL with ezetimibe reduced cardiovascular events."
Six years ago, a relatively smaller study was conducted which resulted in the findings that the medicine failed to prevent the accumulation of fatty deposits (plaque) in the
arteries. Several experts assumed that this failure to at least slow the plaque accumulation might also mean that it will fail to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
According to the Dr. Cannon, this latest study dubbed "Improve-It" attempts to address that concern, hence asserting the significance of LDL reduction. Furthermore, it showed a benefit for getting really LDL cholesterol levels from patients who had had a heart attack recently