Millions of heart attack survivors with seemingly normal cholesterol levels should be put on cholesterol-lowering drugs to help them live longer, according to a new study in the Oct. 3 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The powerful drugs have so far been used largely on people with seriously elevated cholesterol levels. But the latest research suggests that hundreds of thousands of deaths and repeat heart attacks could be avoided if the medicines were also prescribed for heart patients with ordinary amounts of cholesterol in their blood.
The study was conducted on 4,159 men and women whose cholesterol levels were under 240--the average was 209--and had survived heart attacks. Over the next five years, those who received the drug were 24% less likely to die or suffer another heart attack than those who received a placebo.