AHA: Ezetimibe Linked to Reduced Heart Attack Risk

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AHA: Ezetimibe Linked to Reduced Heart Attack Risk
AHA: Ezetimibe Linked to Reduced Heart Attack Risk

TUESDAY, Nov. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Patients experienced fewer myocardial infarctions (MIs) and strokes when taking ezetimibe (Vytorin). These findings from the IMPROVE-IT study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, held from Nov. 15 to 19 in Chicago.

The study, led by Christopher Cannon, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, included 1,158 centers in 39 countries. It enrolled 18,144 patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) who were 50 or older. The researchers recruited the study volunteers within 10 days of hospitalization for an MI or unstable angina. The patients were followed for an average six years. The researchers compared how well some did with ezetimibe versus others taking just simvastatin (Zocor).

The researchers found that people taking the combination drug had a 6.4 percent lower combined risk of subsequent MI, stroke, cardiovascular-related death, and hospitalization for cardiovascular problems. Both MIs and nonfatal strokes were reduced by 14 percent. Approximately two cardiovascular events were prevented in the trial for every 100 patients treated, with the difference driven by reductions in MI or stroke. However, deaths from cardiovascular disease overall were about the same in both groups. Ezetimibe also proved to be safe, producing about the same number of side effects as simvastatin alone.

Ezetimibe reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in patients to just under 54 mg/dL. "Our findings suggest that, among this population of ACS patients, we may want to consider changes to our clinical guidelines, which might include an LDL cholesterol target of closer to 55, or lower," Eugene Braunwald, M.D., co-chair of the study and founding chairman of the TIMI Study Group at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said in a hospital news release.

The study was supported by Merck, the manufacturer of Vytorin.

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