The safety use of statins is of great concern to the public, as well as to doctors and policy makers alike, because of the risk to the security of cerivastatin (Baycol, Bayer), which led to it being withdrawn from the market. With the recent arrival of a new statin, Crestor, AstraZeneca’s rosuvastatin, these reservations have reappeared.
Medicine safety is always a big issue, more so with the statins for several reasons. First, they are prescribed frequently, being the single most prescribed category of agents in the U.S. today. Second, statins are prescribed over long periods of time and chances for adverse effects, including unanticipated changes in a patient’s health status. A third is that they are commonly used in elderly patients, who also are taking other medications for other complications. This increases safety risk, because the polypharmacy usual to these age sets increases the risk of drug interactions and because many diseases common in older patients add to drug safety concerns, and finally, probably because having an advanced age increases the risk of a drug’s toxicity.
Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol. They function by blocking a body substance that makes cholesterol. They also help the body reabsorb cholesterol built up in plaques on the walls of the artery, preventing more blockage in the blood vessels resulting in heart attacks. Lifestyle changes are critical for risk reduction of heart disease, whether you are taking statin or not.
Statin therapy reduces low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol levels and the events of cardiovascular risk but whether toting of ezetimibe, a non-statin drug which reduces cholesterol absorption in the intestine has the capability to reduce the rate of cardiovascular events is not known.
The study’s conclusion is that when ezetimibe, added to statin therapy, resulted in an incremental drop of LDL cholesterol levels and enriched cardiovascular outcomes. Lowering of the LDL cholesterol to levels below targets provides additional benefit.