The cholesterol-fighting drug rosuvastatin, marketed as Crestor to help fight high cholesterol, can help cut the risk of blood clots dramatically, according to research released Sunday.
The study dubbed Jupiter -- Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin -- found that taking the British lab AstraZeneca's Crestor reduced the clot risk in the veins by as much as 40 percent and more.
It did not however consider other popular statins such as Lipitor or Zocor.
Those brands, and generics, are battling for billion-dollar global market shares.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a very common disorder with an incidence that increases with age. Deep vein thrombosis, which can cause pain in the legs, is an early form of VTE, while pulmonary embolism is a frequently fatal, advanced form of the condition caused by a clot that travels to the lungs.
"VTE is a serious, sometimes fatal, event that is costly and inconvenient to treat," said Robert Glynn, a biostatistician at Brigham and Women?s Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who presented the results at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology here.
"When patients and their doctors discuss initiation of statin therapy, prevention of VTE is an important additional consideration beyond proven benefits in the prevention of heart attack and stroke," he said.
While "our findings require confirmation, ... they have the potential to broaden our perspective on the treatment targets for statin therapy, including consideration of VTE, in addition to conditions caused by arterial thrombosis such as heart attack and stroke (among) estimated benefits associated with statin use," Glynn argued.
According to Paul Ridker, of Brigham and Women?s and the JUPITER trial chairman: "the clinical bottom line here is simple, in addition to reducing risks of heart attack and stroke, we now have hard evidence that aggressive statin therapy reduces life-threatening blood clots in the veins.
"In contrast to drugs like warfarin and heparin, we got this benefit with no bleeding hazard at all, so the new data are an exciting advance for our patients," Ridker stressed.
The clinical test was carried out on 17,802 subjects both men and women in good health.
"During follow-up, 34 participants in the rosuvastatin group and 60 in the placebo group developed symptomatic VTE, a 43 percent reduction," they explained in a statement.
"Similar reductions in risk were observed in people who had certain triggers for VTE, including cancer or recent hospitalization, surgery, or trauma (provoked VTE), and in those who did not have any of these triggers (unprovoked VTE). Risk reductions were seen for both deep vein thrombosis and for pulmonary embolism," the researchers added.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming 900,000 lives every year.
The US consumer watchdog Public Citizen in March 2004 urged the FDA to take Crestor off the US market, saying it was "linked to cases of life-threatening muscle damage and kidney failure or damage."