The study involved almost 350 heart patients, including ten in Scotland. The two-year study showed that the cholesterol levels in the blood were reduced. It was also detected that the fatty deposits in the patient's arteries also showed a slight regression. But the British heart foundation said that further research was needed to discover whether the drug could cut heart attack rates. Statistics show that more than two million people in the UK are affected by atherosclerosis.
The fatty build-up in the arteries was reduced by between 7 to 9 %. The levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) were reduced by 53 % and that of good cholesterol (HDL) by 15 %. Dr Neal Uren, from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary said that the reduction of the fatty deposits (atheroma) was the only way to fight against heart disease.
Dr Uren said that there were no serious side-effects in the patients who participated in the study. The findings were revealed at the American College of Cardiology's annual conference in Atlanta. Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said that this study changed the idea that statin saved lives by stabilizing plaques, thereby preventing them from rupturing to cause a heart attack or stroke.
On the other hand through this study it is known that it causes regression of the plaques. Hence further studies are necessary to analyze whether the regression of plaques would result in fewer heart attacks.
Dr Martin Godfrey, of the British Cardiac Society, said that statins could reduce fatty deposits is a major breakthrough. Heart attacks and strokes are the biggest killers in this country. Hence if there is a way to reduce atherosclerosis then it is something very exciting and useful.