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A quarter of all heart attacks, strokes and operations to open blocked arteries could be avoided in patients with chronic kidney diseases – if the patients take a long term treatment of the blood lipid lowering drugs ezetimibe and simvastatin. "In this way, about 250,000 people worldwide could be spared from this cardiovascular disease," says principal investigator Professor Colin Baigent of the University of Oxford.
This is the conclusion of the so-called Sharp study. This is the largest study of kidney patients ever conducted: It included altogether 9,480 patients from more than 380 hospitals in 18 countries over a time span of ten years. About one third of the patients had already progressed to the stage of dialysis.
The Department of Medicine I of the University of Würzburg served as a coordinating centre for Germany and Austria. Professor Christoph Wanner was the regional coordinator for Central Europe; Associate Professor Vera Krane acted as a study coordinator. "We started the planning in collaboration with Oxford in spring 2001," says Wanner. He and his team recruited altogether 1,800 patients for the study.
The risk of heart attacks and strokes is very high in patients with chronic kidney disease. "Previously, in the prevailing scientific opinion, the higher risk was not thought to be connected to the blood lipid levels so that a reduction of the blood lipid levels would seem to be of no benefit to the patients," says Wanner. This opinion can now be rejected. The fact that blood lipid lowering drugs reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in healthy people has long been known.
"There was no evidence in the study of any adverse side effects of the treatment," says co-principal investigator Martin Landray from Oxford. Earlier concerns that ezetimibe might cause cancer were not confirmed either: "The study clearly shows that the treatment is safe."
MEDICA.de; Source: Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg