The merits of lower cholesterol

The lipid-lowering drug lovastatin reduces the risk of first major heart attack in generally healthy middle-aged men and women, according to a recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The article reinforces what many in the medical community have long suspected: that lower cholesterol levels are good for almost anybody. A Texas study, in which participants had no prior history, signs or symptoms of heart disease (and good cholesterol readings) found that treatment with lovastatin resulted in a 37 percent reduction in the risk for “first acute major coronary events”.

The study was designed to investigate if the drug lovastatin would lower the risk of a first major cardiac event among low-risk patients. The study participants were given either lovastatin or a placebo, combined with a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were reduced by 25 percent, triglyceride levels were reduced by 15 percent, HDL-C (“good” cholesterol) levels were increased by 6 percent.

The authors of the study concluded that five years of lovastatin treatment in 1,000 people would prevent 12 myocardial infarctions, ven cases of unstable angina, and 17 revascularization (by-pass)procedures.