Giving statin drugs to heart attack patients within 24 hours of their attack reduces the chance the patient will die by 50 percent, according to a recently published study.
The study suggests that statins may have a powerful effect in decreasing heart muscle inflammation that occurs immediately after an attack.
The research was led by cardiologist Gregg Fonarow of the University of California, Los Angeles, and funded by Genentech, which currently doesn’t make any statin drugs but did support the national registry of patients used for analysis.
Researchers examined data from 174,635 heart attacks compiled as part of the registry from July 2000 to January 2002.
Compared with patients who never took the drugs, heart attack victims who had been on statins and continued them without interruption had a 54 percent lower death rate. The reduction was 58 percent for patients who first started taking the drugs within 24 hours of their attacks.
For patients who had been on the drugs but did not take them immediately after their heart attacks, the death rate rose 25 percent over patients who had never been on the drugs.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs captured over 6 percent of the U.S. market share of all branded Rx medicines with $15 billion in U.S. sales last year, according to data from IMS Health.
Pfizer’s blockbuster Lipitor is the top-selling statin and the best-selling prescription pharmaceutical product ever, with global sales of over $10 billion last year.