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Lipitor fails to stop valve blockage

June 13, 2005|From Reuters

The popular cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor does not appear to prevent obstruction of the heart valve that leads to the aorta, the body's largest artery.

In a study conducted to determine whether the drug did more than just reduce cholesterol, doctors found that it failed to prevent obstructions that can keep the heart from pumping blood adequately.

The condition, known as calcified aortic stenosis, occurs when a key heart valve narrows or becomes blocked, preventing the heart from pumping blood properly, and can manifest itself in spite of reductions of cholesterol levels, according to the study.

Aortic stenosis affects 3% of adults older than 75, making it the most common valve defect in North America and Europe. It occurs gradually over several decades, but by the time symptoms appear, surgery is typically needed to repair or replace the valve.

In an accompanying editorial, Raphael Rosenhek of the Vienna General Hospital in Austria said that prescribing statins is not justified unless a patient has another, more established, reason for taking the medicine.

The findings were published in the June 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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