Combo cholesterol drugs effective 20 years

June 25, 2012 at 10:59 PM

CHICAGO, June 25 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said intensive cholesterol therapy involving a combination of drugs for 20 years may be more effective than a single statin medication.

Lead author Dr. Binh An P. Phan, a cardiologist at Loyola University Health System, said previous studies documented the short-term benefits of taking a combination of two or three cholesterol drugs aimed at aggressively lowering low-density lipoprotein, the "bad," cholesterol and raising high-density lipoprotein, the "good," cholesterol. The study is the first to show such benefits are maintained over a period of 20 years, Phan said.

In the study, one group took the statin medication lovastatin, or Mevacor, plus the medication colestipol that binds to cholesterol. A second group took colestipol plus niacin. A third group took a placebo.

Both groups of study participants had a similar age and fatty build-up in their blood vessels and after 20 years, the group taking the combination therapy had a "vascular age" 10.2 years younger than the group taking a single statin. Vascular age reflects how old an individual's blood vessels appear to be, based on risk factors and the amount of plaque buildup -- it can be higher or lower than an individual's chronological age.

The study found compared with patients who took a single statin, patients who received a combination-drug therapy had dramatically lower levels of LDL and triglycerides, higher HDL and less fatty build-up in the carotid artery in the head and neck.

The findings were presented at the National Lipid Association scientific sessions.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
Boehner delays House vote for new speaker
NASA releases thousands of Apollo mission photos on Flickr
FDA approves new treatment for advanced lung cancer
Gay Vatican priest comes out day before Pope Francis begins synod on family issues
Scientists find roadmap that may lead to 'exercise pill'