Charles A. Bertrand, M.D., FACP, DIM-CD (Ret.)
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College
and at the Medical University of South Carolina


Steady progress has been made in the treatment of heart attacks over the past 30 years.. In general, those who are admitted to the hospital survive. For example, there is about a 95% survival rate for patients seen within an hour of the onset of symptoms. The time factor is key -- the earlier the patient is seen the better the result.

But later? After the patient goes home - what then?

There is a new addition to treatment that focuses on this very question. and has been reported in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, volume 285 pp. 430 to 436 (January 24/31). The study is from Sweden and has many authors, since the data were collected from 58 hospitals.

It has been known for several years that lowering the blood cholesterol level is of value and prolongs life.The statin type medications (in the U.S. well known brand names are Lipitor and Zocor) are popular. Patients who had their first heart attacks were evaluated at the end of one year to see if giving a statin type of medicine had an effect on survival.

The patients were treated in the standard manner for a heart attack. But, in addition, 5528 received a statin medicine (treated group) and 14071 did not receive this medication (non treated group)..After 1 year. the mortality was 9.3 % in the nontreated group and 4.0 % in those who were given a statin medication.. The study was done using the Swedish Register of Cardiac Intensive Care patients as well as the Swedish National Cause of Death Register.

The study is impressive and gives hope for yet better health for cardiac patients. However, it must be confirmed by other studies -- some of which are already in progress... with the results anticipated within a year or two.

The advice provided on this website is intended to be general in nature and should not be relied upon for specific treatment. If you need personal medical attention please contact your physician.

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