Statins: from the heart to the brain

Effective to lower cholesterol, Statins are part of the most innovative drugs in recent years in cardiology. Recent work suggests that their indications could also expand to many other diseases.

Hyperlipidemia is part of the most important risk factors for atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction. No one calls into question the importance of combating this excess fat in the blood, to prevent the risk of cardiovascular events. In this area, the arrival of Statins (which include Tahor ®, Crestor ® or Zocor ®), some 15 years ago has been an undeniable progress.

These molecules are called “penicillin of the heart”, in reference to their effectiveness and the bacteria (Penicillium citrinum) of which the oldest is extracted.

heart to the brain

Reduce bad cholesterol
Their great originality is to slow down the production of cholesterol by inhibiting a key enzyme in synthesis: HMG CoA reductase (3-hydroxy-3methylglutaryl-coenzyme A). Taking a Statin thus translates into a lower total cholesterol and especially its harmful fraction, LDL-cholesterol. Other favorable actions have been more recently put in evidence, such as a decrease in inflammatory phenomena, cell proliferation and the formation of clots at the level of the atherosclerotic plaque.

The Statins are the first drugs to have demonstrated that a decrease in cholesterol reduces the risk of death in people who have Hyperlipidemia. Their effectiveness has been demonstrated both in people who had a cardiac event1, than those having never had complication2. A recent3 study indicates that their effectiveness manifests very quickly in early patients after a myocardial infarction. In the first year, the mortality reduction was significant.

Less stroke
An analysis of all essays published on Statins4 concluded that these medications also decrease the risk of stroke. Cardiovascular disease-related mortality was reduced, but total mortality also. Contrary to the results of some studies with other lipid-lowering drugs, related to other causes, in particular the cancer mortality was not increased. As such, the balance is very positive.

However, the results were nothing short of miraculous: should be treated 76 people for five years to prevent one death. It is an opportunity to recall that the treatment of Hyperlipidemia must be used to a lifestyle change, involving a special diet, a reduction in weight in the case of obesity and a minimum of physical exercise. The reduction of the risk factors such as smoking is also crucial. Consensus recommended to apply these rules of hygiene several months before possibly considering drug therapy.