Heart attack survivors might do well to begin treatment with a statin drug — such as Lipitor or Zocor — as soon as possible, a new study suggests.
Among patients treated for severe chest pain or a heart attack, those who were given statins within 24 hours fared significantly better than those who were not given the drugs until later. At the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor, Dr. Debabrata Mukherjee and colleagues reviewed data on 1639 patients brought to the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack but who had not been receiving prior statin therapy. According to the researchers’ report, which appears in the American Journal of Cardiology, 1284 patients were treated with statins within 24 hours of admission, while the remaining 355 received the drugs at a later time point. Patients in the early statin therapy group had a lower occurrence of death, stroke, repeat heart attack, and heart failure during their hospital stay, compared with patients in the delayed therapy group, the investigators found. They point out that current guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend that statin therapy be started when the patient is discharged from the hospital. “Our study suggests that even earlier administration, less than 24 hours after presentation, promotes favorable short-term outcomes” in patients experiencing an acute cardiac event, the team states. (Source: American Journal of Cardiology: Reuters Health: November 2004.)