Lowering cholesterol far below the level now considered adequate appears to substantially reduce patients’ risk of death from heart attacks. These findings from the “Prove It” Study (Pravastatin generic or Atorvastatin Evaluation and Infection Therapy) may change the way heart disease is treated. The study compared high doses of a powerful statin, or cholesterol-lowering drug, medication atorvastatin calcium (Lipitor®, Pfizer), with a less potent statin, pravastatin sodium (Pravachol®, Bristol-Myers Squibb). The patients taking Lipitor® were much less likely to have heart attacks or to need bypass surgery or angioplasty.
National guidelines currently call for levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which carries cholesterol to arteries, to be below 100 mg/dl in high-risk patients.
In an earlier study, Drug Lipitor halted plaque growth and Pravachol® slowed but did not stop it. The current study suggests that for patients with recent acute coronary syndrome, an intensive lipid-lowering statin regimen might provide greater protection against death or major cardiovascular events than a standard regimen and that patients would benefit from early reduction of LDL cholesterol to below present target levels.