Role of statin therapy in patients with heart failure

An advanced study launched at Yale School of Medicine is evaluating the role of statin therapy in patients with heart failure, one of the leading causes of hospitalization in people over age 65.

While statins--drugs that inhibit cholesterol production in the liver--are used primarily to lower cholesterol levels, there is evidence that these drugs may also have beneficial effects on blood vessel function independent of cholesterol levels. Heart failure patients are known to have vascular dysfunction, but are impaired and not routinely considered for statin therapy. The Yale trial, "Short Term Effects of Statin on Vascular Function in Heart Failure," will assess vascular function before and after a short course of statin therapy in heart failure patients with normal cholesterol levels. The randomized trial will include 30 patients with mild to moderate chronic heart failure.

Long-term statin therapy has led to improved vascular function in heart disease patients with high cholesterol, but there are no data available regarding the short-term effects of statin therapy in heart failure patients with normal cholesterol levels. This study will screen patients for high cholesterol and evaluate the potential impact of statins on the care of heart failure patients.

Researchers, led by Stuart D. Katz, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine/cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine, will use a method called the Cholestech LDX System to check cholesterol/LDL levels in blood at the beginning and the end of the study. The method enhances physicians' ability to quickly identify patients with high risk of heart disease and offer treatment and/or counseling in the same office visit.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States for over 100 years. While some risk factors, including smoking, have declined in recent years, high cholesterol remains prevalent.

"Generating comprehensive, lab-accurate results in minutes will enable physicians to focus on prescribing the right treatment sooner and ensuring that patients are on the correct therapeutic mix, rather than chasing down lab results," said Katz. "We are optimistic that this pilot study will yield promising results."


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