Higher doses of cholesterol-lowering statins can benefit patients who have had a recent heart attack or hospital stay for chest pain, also known as acute coronary syndrome, but may not be particularly cost-effective for all heart patients.

The Study

A team from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System performed a computer analysis of data from thousands of heart patients. They found that some patients with a recent history of acute coronary syndrome got more than four additional quality-adjusted months of life from receiving higher and more expensive doses of statins.

But this may not be the case for other patients with stable coronary artery disease who have narrowed arteries but haven't recently been hospitalized for heart attack or chest pain. For these patients, the usual statin dose may provide adequate heart protection. Higher doses for more stable heart patients may offer only marginal benefit—only about five weeks of quality-adjusted life.

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