A blocked coronary artery can lead to a heart attack. In Europe and the United States, coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death among men and women. In Japan, it is the second leading cause of death, right behind cancer.
Coronary heart disease results from the deposition of so-called “atherosclerotic plaque,” which clogs the coronary arteries and makes them stiff and uneven. It is called an arterial hardening. Due to the deposits, there is a slow narrowing of the coronary arteries, whereby the heart is supplied with less and less blood and oxygen. This decreased blood flow can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, or other symptoms. Finally, complete blockage of a coronary artery can cause a heart attack.
For a long time, researchers have been working on the further development of appropriate drug therapies. The standard is to date the administration of statins to reduce the “bad” cholesterol. Yet, despite statin therapy, more than half of the patients still have heart disease, possibly because statins, in addition to inhibiting cholesterol synthesis in the liver, also stimulate cholesterol absorption in the small intestine.
Experts at Kumamoto University in Japan studied the effect of co-administration of statins and ezetimibe. The latter is a drug from the group of acetidones and inhibits the absorption of cholesterol on the brush border of the villi cells of the small intestine. The study, which was conducted at Kumamoto University’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, involved patients with LDL cholesterol levels of 100 mg/dL or more who had previously undergone percutaneous coronary intervention. The normal range for LDL cholesterol in adults is between 60 and 139 mg/dL.
Prevent heart attack by statins and ezetimibe
Subjects were treated with either statins or a combination of statins and ezetimibe. The aim was to reduce LDL cholesterol levels to a maximum of 70 mg / dL. After 9 to 12 weeks, the scien
tists also analyzed potential volume changes of the atheroma – i. Deposits of cholesterol, calcium and various cell types in the vessels.
“Towards the end of the study, there was a clear difference between the two groups of patients. Kenichi Tsujita, head of the study. “The average LDL cholesterol levels in the statin-only group decreased from 109.8 mg/dL to 73.3 mg/dL, corresponding to a 29 percent reduction. Patients taking statins in combination with ezetimibe had an LDL reduction of 108.3 mg/dL to 63.2 mg/dL, corresponding to a 40 percent reduction. Also, the volume of atheromas was significantly reduced in both groups, but the effects on plaque regression were much more pronounced in the patient group treated with both drugs.
“The regression of plaque was particularly evident in patients with acute coronary syndrome,” said Professor Ogawa, head of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Kumamoto University.
“The current study shows that the concomitant administration of statins and ezetimibe brings about a safe and efficient cholesterol reduction. This form of treatment could be of great clinical relevance for the treatment of coronary heart disease, “concludes the science team. [MK]