Drugs that are commonly used to lower cholesterol levels appear to improve a mysterious type of heart disease with an unknown cause.
The disease, known as idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC), results in an enlarged heart that doesn't pump properly. Unlike the most common type of heart disease, IDC is not due to a blockage of the coronary arteries that feed the heart. Although less common than other heart problems, it is the number one reason people get a heart transplant.
Statins, which include Pravachol and Lipitor, are frequently given to patients with high cholesterol levels. In addition, they have been shown to be useful for patients with heart disease involving the coronary arteries. However, it was unclear if statins were beneficial for IDC. The new findings are published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Treatment with simvastatin (Zocor), a type of statin, modestly reduced total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels without changing triglyceride or HDL ("good") cholesterol levels, the authors report. Patients who received the drug were also more likely than untreated patients to show an improvement in how their heart pumped.