By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

0506-News-ATVB-Statins_Blog

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Peripheral artery disease patients who take statins have lower risks of amputation and death than those who don’t take the cholesterol-lowering drugs, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology/Peripheral Vascular Disease 2016 Scientific Sessions.

And the higher the dose of statins, the lower the risks, researchers said.

“PAD, a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head, is the next cardiovascular epidemic,” said Shipra Arya, M.D., study lead author and assistant professor in the Division of Vascular Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“It is poorly recognized and not adequately treated compared to heart disease — and research is lacking on the optimal use of statins for PAD patients.”

During an average 5.2 years of follow-up, researchers studied more than 208,000 PAD patients in the Veteran Affairs’ database. Classifying patients into three groups — those taking high doses of statins, low to moderate statin doses and no statins — researchers found:

  • A 33 percent lower risk of amputation and 29 percent lower risk of death among PAD patients taking high doses of statins, compared to those taking no statins.
  • A 22 percent lower risk of amputation and death among PAD patients taking low to moderate doses of statins, compared to those taking no statins.

“Ours is one of the largest population-based studies on PAD and suggests patients who have been diagnosed with PAD should be considered for placement on high-dose statins upon diagnosis if they can tolerate it, along with other medical management, including smoking cessation, antiplatelet therapy and a walking program,” Arya said.