Pleiotropic effects of statins: do they matter?


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Abstract

Treatment with the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenyzme A reductase inhibitors (or statins) reduces the risk for cardiovascular events across a broad spectrum of patient profiles, as evidenced by both primary prevention and secondary prevention trials. Improved survival by way of reduced deaths from coronary heart disease was also reported with these agents, which are primarily indicated for substantial reduction in LDL-cholesterol levels. However, the statins are extremely complex drugs and exhibit a wide variety of vascular effects that may or may not be dependent on their lipid-modifying properties. These so-called pleiotropic effects include alterations of endothelial function, inflammation, coagulation, and plaque stability. The relative contribution of the nonlipid effects of statin therapy to the well-documented clinical benefits is currently under intense investigation.

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