The unexpected and dramatic benefits of a cholesterol-lowering statin drug has led to a major clinical trial being halted.
The JUPITER trial was measuring the effects of rosuvastatin on almost 18,000 patients with low to normal cholesterol levels, but raised concentrations of an inflammation protein.
Heart attack risk was reduced by 54% and stroke by 48%, and the combined risk of heart attack, stroke and heart-related death fell by by 47%.
The benefits of taking the drug, sold under the brand name Crestor, were so clear that an independent monitoring board halted the trial more than six months early.
Under normal circumstances, the patients would not be considered at risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or dying from a heart-related cause. Yet those receiving medium doses of the drug experienced far fewer adverse heart events than those given a non-active placebo.
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers pointed out that previous statin trials have generally focused on elevated “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
Their results led scientists conducting the new trial to expect a modest fall of about 25% in the number of adverse heart events but the effect they saw was much greater.
Copyright Press Association 2008