Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cholesterol Lowering Medication May Help with Heart Failure Treatment and Prevention

According to experts, heart failure patients may benefit from taking cholesterol medications. Statins (cholesterol medications) help prevent heart disease by delaying the progression of atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries); preventing heart attack. Newer studies show that patients with heart failure, or those at risk for heart failure, may experience overall health benefit from taking statins.

Patients who develop heart failure are 8 times more likely to die from heart disease when compared to those who have actually had heart attacks without heart failure. Heart failure may occur post heart attack, as the result of heart valve disease, high blood pressure, infection, congenital abnormalities, or cardiomyopathy(enlarged heart from heart muscle disease).

Research also shows that patients with heart failure experience fewer hospitalizations when statins are prescribed. For patients who are at risk for heart failure, taking cholesterol medication seems to decrease the chance of developing congestive heart failure by 45% - 50%, even when blood flow to the heart is good (non-ischemic heart disease). Several studies have also shown improvement in heart function (ejection fraction) when statins are prescribed to heart failure patients, though studies are ongoing.

Hypothetically, statins may treat small blood vessel, or microvascular disease, accounting for better outcomes. In addition, we all have some form of atherosclerosis (artery plaque), making prevention of heart attack more important for those who already have diagnosed heart disease.

According to experts, 50% of the population is likely to die from blockage of the coronary arteries; most of them will not have a prior diagnosis of atherosclerotic heart disease. There are ongoing studies designed to support the use of statins in heart failure, but the preliminary evidence is positive that management of risk factors can provide benefit for patients with heart failure and possibly provide improvement of heart function.

Unanswered questions include why and how this all works. Long before science knew how Aspirin worked, they knew that it was valuable to prevent heart attacks.
In spite of unanswered questions, we do know that it’s important to maintain healthy blood vessels. Heredity, diet, and lifestyle all play a role in prevention of inflammatory response in large and small blood vessels.

Many people balk at the proposition of taking cholesterol medication due to side effects, cost and the need for ongoing blood work. If you have a family history of heart disease, are at risk for heart failure from hypertension, or have damage to the heart muscle, consider speaking with your doctor about what you can do to prevent heart attack or stroke.

Continue to follow dietary guidelines for a healthy heart. Eat foods that are high in antioxidant properties and can help reduce inflammation. Food and exercise can promote much of the same effect as cholesterol medication. It's important to take an active role in managing your own health, in addition to following your doctor's recommendations.

Source: Cardiosource Video Network