"Other studies have indicated a benefit for heart attack patients in beginning treatment with statins relatively early, so today the standard practice is to prescribe them upon discharge," says R. Scott Wright, M.D., the Mayo Clinic cardiologist who was the studys lead investigator in North America. "Our new findings suggest they should be given even earlier, as soon as the patient arrives at the hospital."
The PRINCESS Trial (The PRevention of Ischemic EveNts by Early Treatment of CErivaStatin Study) was designed to test whether very early initiation of statin therapy in hospitalized heart attack patients would prevent deaths and additional heart attacks and reduce the need for bypass surgery or angioplasty.
Within 48 hours of hospitalization, 3,605 patients at 260 medical centers in Europe, Israel, Canada and the United States were randomly assigned to receive either cerivastatin, a potent statin agent, or a placebo. Neither patients nor their physicians knew whether they were receiving the statin or the sugar pill initially, but all of the patients were switched to the statin after three months. Because statins had been proven beneficial as a later-term treatment, withholding the cholesterol-lowering medication for a prolonged period would have been unethical. In the midst of the study, however, cerivastatins manufacturer withdrew it from the market due to safety concerns, so the researchers were only able to follow the participants for 4.5 months.
Lee Aase | EurekAlert!
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