London: Cholesterol lowering drugs, statins, may help improve heart structure and function, reducing the risk of heart attack, cardiac failure or stroke, a new study claims.
“Statins are highly effective in preventing cardiovascular events in patients who have had a heart attack or are at risk of heart disease,” said Nay Aung from Queen Mary University of London in the UK.
Researchers found that people using statins were less likely to have a thickened heart muscle (left ventricular hypertrophy) and less likely to have a large heart chamber.
Having a thick, large heart is a strong predictor of future heart attack, heart failure or stroke and taking statins appears to reverse the negative changes in the heart which, in turn, could lower the risk of adverse outcomes, they said.
Researchers investigated the association between statins and heart structure and function. They studied about 4,622 people without cardiovascular disease.
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure left and right ventricular volumes and left ventricular mass. Information on statin use was obtained from medical records and a self-reporting questionnaire.
The relationship between statin use and heart structure and function was assessed using a statistical technique called multiple regression which adjusts for potential confounders that can have an effect on the heart such as ethnicity, gender, age and body mass index (BMI).
Researchers found that nearly 17 per cent of the participants were taking statins. Those taking statins were older, had higher BMI and blood pressure, and were more likely to have diabetes and hypertension.
Patients taking statins had a 2.4 per cent lower left ventricular mass and lower left and right ventricular volumes.
“It is important to note that in our study, the people taking statins were at higher risk of having heart problems than those not using statins yet they still had positive heart remodelling compared to the healthier control group,” Aung said.