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Statins research shows cardiac benefit

Statins used to treat cholesterol problems are producing added benefits and reducing patients' susceptibility to cardiac complications, according to a new study.

Statins used to treat cholesterol problems are producing added benefits and reducing patients' susceptibility to cardiac complications, according to a new study.  

French researchers from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Trousseau in Tours, who conducted a study of 3,600 patients, learned that statins cut the risk of atrial fibrillation.

The study indicates that patients prescribed statins were 61 per cent less likely to succumb to atrial fibrillation, abnormal rhythm in the upper heart chambers.

Dr Laurent Fauchier, head of the research team, said: "A positive effect of statins on atrial fibrillation may contribute to a reduction in the number of strokes or episodes of worsening hear failure."

These results add further weight to a 2003 investigation by researchers based at Harvard University that gave initial indications of the added effects of statins.

Reports given at the time showed that statins not only allayed potential atrial fibrillation but also had a positive impact on mood disorders associated with low cholesterol levels.

But Fauchier was cautious not to define this as a categorical treatment: "I think it is too early to use statins only for atrial fibrillation."

The preliminary results come as the FDA released guidance on 'good reprint practices' allowing greater dissemination of information about unapproved uses of new and existing prescription drugs.

Randall Lutter, the FDA deputy commissioner said: "Articles that discuss unapproved uses of FDA-approved drugs and devices can contribute to the practice of medicine and may even constitute a medically recognized standard of care."

Although the FDA wants to ensure that the companies can't promote 'off-label' use of their drugs they do allow for publication of information about unapproved uses in journals and periodicals.

Full details of the French study will be published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on February 26.

19th February 2008

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