LONDON, June 30 (UPI) -- Statin medications commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol may improve kidney performance and decrease heart problems, Greek researchers reported Wednesday.
Poor cholesterol profiles drive up risk of kidney disease, a risk factor for coronary artery heart disease, according to the study published in the British Medical Association's Journal of Clinical Pathology.
Researchers from Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki, Greece, studied 1,600 patients under age 75 who had coronary heart disease and normally functioning kidneys. Half were treated with atorvastatin, which stimulates the release of hormones, with two-thirds of that group taking a higher dose.
Researchers gave the other half the usual care -- a low-fat diet, weight loss and exercise, although some also got cholesterol-lowering drugs.
After three years, researchers found improved cholesterol profiles in statin patients compared with patients given usual care. Creatine clearance, a measure of kidney performance, improved by 12 percent among statin patients, with those who took higher doses improving most. Creatine clearance fell by more than 5 percent in patients who did not receive statin treatment.
The study showed 12 percent of statin patients subsequently had a heart attack or stroke, compared with 25 percent of non-statin patients, and statin treatment cut overall risk of death by 43 percent.