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CLINICAL STUDIES have shown that cholesterol-lowering drugs—such as the statin class of pharmaceuticals—can dramatically reduce the risks of myocardial infarction (MI) and mortality from heart disease. Accumulating evidence suggests that these agents do more than just lower cholesterol to protect patients at risk for coronary artery disease.
The evidence suggests the drugs may help reduce inflammation at the site of the plaque, reduce the risk of thrombosis, help normalize endothelial function, and improve the vessels' vasodilatory function. Speaking at the "Summit on Cholesterol and Coronary Disease: The 2nd National Conference on Lipids in the Elimination and Prevention of Coronary Artery Disease," in Lake Buena Vista, Fla, B. Greg Brown, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and cardiology and director of the University of Washington School of Medicine's Atherosclerosis Research Laboratory, in Seattle, described some of these mechanisms that may lie behind the drugs' ability to protect coronary arteries.
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