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Higher-dose for some statins suggested for cholesterol treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration writes that statins are a class of prescription drugs which are used together with diet and exercise to reduce blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol. Single-ingredient statin products include Lipitor (atorvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release), Livalo (pitavastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin). Statins can also be marketed as combination products, which include Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release), Simcor (simvastatin/niacin extended-release),and Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe). There are possible side effects which can occur with the use of statins which should be discussed with your physician and pharmacist.

The pharmaceutical drug Zocor, a statin, prescribed to prevent heart attacks
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

In news release on October 15, 2012, Oregon State University has reported: "Higher-dose use of certain statins often best for cholesterol issues." A comprehensive new review on how to treat high cholesterol and other blood lipid problems has suggested that intensive treatment with high doses of statin drugs is generally the best approach. However, some statins work much better for this than others, and additional lipid-lowering medications added to a statin have been found to have far less value. Furthermore, medications, of course, should only be considered after first trying diet, weight loss and exercise.

The review has been published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy. It has been concluded by this research that "use of statin drugs, which effectively lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, is appropriate for both moderate and high risk patients who have issues with their cholesterol levels, or may already have experienced a heart attack or angina as a result of cardiovascular disease." However, it was also found that in the majority of cases simply increasing the statin dose would offer the best protection against serious cardiovascular problems, more so than if other drugs or combinations of drugs are used.

Matt Ito, a professor of pharmacy practice at Oregon State University, and author of the study, has said, “Statins are proven medications that can reduce heart attacks and strokes by about 30 percent in the patients that need them.” Ito noted that adding other drugs or therapies to the use of statins in most cases didn’t help. However, it did help to increase the statin dose to higher levels within the range for which they are approved. Furthermore, there did not appear to be a significant change in side effects based on any approved dosage. For intensive monotherapy with an average patient the research has indicated that only two of the most commonly prescribed statins are suitable: atorvastatin and rosuvastatin. Other statins that are “not suitable for intensive monotherapy,” according to the review, include fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin.

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