Combination cholesterol therapy could save thousands of lives, breakthrough study finds
[Sept. 13, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]
Combining cholesterol-lowering drugs, specifically statins with ezetimibe, could significantly reduce the mortality rate in patients. (CREDIT: iStock Photo)
In a groundbreaking discovery, a recent study indicates that combining cholesterol-lowering drugs, specifically statins with ezetimibe, could significantly reduce the mortality rate in patients suffering from acute coronary syndrome (ACS).
The ramifications of these findings are enormous, suggesting that the swift adoption of this combined treatment can transform cardiac care and potentially save thousands of lives annually.
The Numbers Behind the Revolution
According to the research, those who have undergone heart attacks or are battling unstable angina - both conditions falling under ACS - witness a staggering 47% drop in their likelihood of death within three years when promptly given a combination of high dose statin and ezetimibe, rather than only the high dose statin.
The study included consecutive patients with ACS included in PL‐ACS, who were discharged alive. At the time of this analysis, the registry included 810 511 patients with ACS (Figure 1). Because information on LDL‐C levels has been collected only since 2016, and it is not required to enter these data for patients based on the registry design, data on LDL‐C concentrations and outcomes were available for 38 023 patients. Data on ezetimibe have been available in the registry since 2017. (CREDIT: AHA Journals)
Delving deeper into the data reveals that for every 21 patients subjected to this dual treatment over a span of three years, one death was averted.
"If we act quickly and decisively to lower patients’ cholesterol with this combination of treatments, we can drastically reduce the risk of death," explained Professor Maciej Banach, the head of this transformative study.
The Man Behind The Science
A renowned figure in the medical world, Professor Maciej Banach holds a distinguished position at both the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, and as an Adjunct Professor at the Ciccarone Centre for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA.
Speaking on the significance of this research, he remarked, “Patients diagnosed with ACS, especially those who have already encountered a heart attack, are at a heightened risk of further cardiac complications.”
Despite existing guidelines from authoritative bodies, such as the European Society of Cardiology, advocating for a stepwise approach beginning solely with a statin, this new research may very well rewrite the playbook.
"Around seven million people worldwide are diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome annually, with the majority of these cases being attributed to elevated cholesterol levels and fat accumulation in the blood vessels," Professor Banach observed. Stressing the need for comprehensive treatment, he stated, “We have potent cholesterol-lowering treatments at our disposal, but the imperative lies in ensuring that those in need are duly administered these treatments.”
Delving Deeper into the Data
This research stands on the robust foundation of data involving 1,536 ACS patients, sourced from the national Polish Registry of Acute Coronary Syndromes (PL-ACS). A scrutiny of this cohort revealed that while half received only a high dose statin, the remainder benefitted from the combination of high dose statin and ezetimibe, a prevalent medication for high cholesterol.
Kaplan‐Meier curves with 52‐day and 1‐, 2‐, and 3‐year postdischarge all‐cause mortality. (CREDIT: AHA Journals)
Findings, now published in the respected Journal of the American Heart Association, signify that individuals who began the combined regimen immediately showcased a diminished chance of death from any cause over the subsequent three years. Astonishingly, the dip in the death risk was discernible after a mere 52 days into the treatment.
What Are Statins and Ezetimibe?
Statins and ezetimibe, both accessible drugs, have been clinically demonstrated to considerably decrease cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Elevated cholesterol levels can lead to obstructions in blood vessels, escalating the risk of severe heart ailments or strokes. With ACS affecting approximately seven million people globally, inclusive of around four million heart attack survivors, the urgency for revised treatment protocols is palpable.
Blockage of a coronary artery due to acute ACS. (CREDIT: Wikipedia)
Extrapolating from the data, researchers posit that the immediate initiation of the combined treatment for all vulnerable individuals could potentially prevent an estimated 330,000 deaths each year.
This research not only shines a light on the latent potential of combining treatments but also underscores the need to expediently adapt and modify medical guidelines in the face of new findings, all in the bid to ensure the best care for patients around the globe.
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