(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- An aggressive treatment with cholesterol-lowering drugs is necessary in patients with coronary heart disease and metabolic syndrome, according to new research. Metabolic syndrome is when a patient has at least three cardiovascular risk factors like obesity, diabetes or hypertension.
Doctors often prescribe statins to heart disease patients to help lower their low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. But the question of how aggressively to treat these patients has often been asked.
A new study called Treating to New Targets (TNT) may help doctors determine how aggressively to treat certain heart disease patients with statins. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco studied more than 5,000 patients with metabolic syndrome and heart disease at more than 256 sites in 14 countries.
The patients either received 10 milligrams per day of atorvastatin (Lipitor) or the more aggressive treatment of 80 milligrams per day of the drug.
Study authors report the patients on the higher dosage were less likely to have a cardiovascular event than those on the lower dosage. Also, those with metabolic syndrome on either dosage were more likely to have a heart attack than those without metabolic syndrome. Researchers say the risk for a major cardiovascular problem increases with each risk component of the metabolic syndrome.
Study authors conclude there is a health benefit from high-dose statin therapy in patients with metabolic syndrome. A corresponding editorial published in the same journal, however, urges physicians to be mindful of the side effects associated with statins.
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SOURCE: The Lancet, published online Sept. 5, 2006