11M more patients could end up on statins

Currently about 33.5 million older Americans take statin drugs, but that number could increase by another 11 million if MDs heed study findings on C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a biomarker of inflammation.

New reports from the JUPITER trial appears in the January 13 issue of the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Original reports from the trial first appeared in November 2008.

The trial--sponsored by AstraZeneca, which markets Crestor--found that, among patients with elevated levels of CRP, Crestor (rosuvastatin) reduced heart attack and stroke by 44 percent, even if the patients had normal LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels. That means it might be worth looking at the CRP levels of patients with other heart attack and stroke risk factors--like obesity and high blood pressure--who would previously go without a statin if they did not have high LDL. 

While guidelines in existence today do not recommend statin treatment for patients with elevated CRP levels, that could change when updated guidelines come out in the next year or two, said Dr. Timothy J. Gardner, AHA president and medical director of the Center for Heart and Vascular Health at the Christiana Health Care System in Delaware.

Other statins on the market include Lipitor, Pravachol and Zocor.

- read the full story in the Washington Post