Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Remember -- Today's medical miracle is tomorrow's medical disaster: "Millions of people with heart disease may be able to reverse their illness and stave off heart attacks by taking higher doses of cholesterol-busting drugs, according to a landmark study. For the first time scientists have found a way of reversing the chronic build-up of fat in arteries, a development dubbed the holy grail in the fight against coronary heart disease. Patients put on intensive treatment with a cholesterollowering statin showed a significant reversal of atherosclerosis, when fatty deposits known as atheroma build up on artery walls. The process, often compared to scale forming in water pipes, causes narrowing of the blood vessels and can lead to fatal conditions including heart attacks and strokes. Until now, efforts have concentrated on slowing the progress of what was thought to be an irreversible disease. But a major study involving rosuvastatin, known by the brand name Crestor, has shown that patients given much more intense doses can reverse their coronary decline. British scientists working on the international study, presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta, Georgia, said that a more aggressive use of statins appeared to halve the relative risk of heart attacks. Neal Uren, consultant cardiologist at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the only British centre involved in the trial, said that for those who had had a clinical episode, this could offer big improvements in life expectancy."

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