People brought to a hospital in the throes of a heart attack are more likely to survive if they receive a statin drug, a new study finds. The report could pave the way for a trial to ascertain whether doctors should routinely use the cholesterol-lowering agents to stabilize these heart patients.
Guidelines for physicians recommend prescribing statins to hospitalized heart attack sufferers only as they are being discharged. But some doctors now give statins to such patients much sooner, a practice based on animal tests suggesting that the drugs' effects go beyond fighting cholesterol.
To test whether these doctors are on to something, cardiologist Gregg C. Fonarow of the University of California, Los Angeles and his colleagues analyzed the records of 174,635 heart attack patients admitted to U.S. hospitals between 2000 and 2002. About a fourth of the group had gotten a statin in the first 24 hours after being hospitalized. The statin family includes Lipitor and Crestor.