Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Statins and kidney function: more incredible news

Patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) and elevated cholesterol who took Pfizer's cholesterol- lowering medicine Lipitor experienced improved kidney function, and those improvements were significantly greater among patients taking the highest dose (80 mg).

An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD). In people with CKD, the kidneys cannot effectively filter the toxins from the blood, which can lead to kidney failure. People with elevated total cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol, or "bad" cholesterol are often at an increased risk of developing kidney dysfunction.

"We anticipated that atorvastatin might provide a protective effect and slow the typical decline in kidney function in this patient population, but we didn't expect to see this level of improvement."

Pfizer said that 8.5 percent of patients taking its 80-milligram dose of Lipitor had a significant improvement of kidney function, compared with a 5.6 percent improvement in patients taking the 10 milligram dose.

(In renal patients, the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is used. This is calculated by comparing urine creatinine levels with the blood test results. It gives a more precise indication of the state of the kidneys. The GFR is expressed in ml/min. For most patients, a GFR over 60 ml/min is adequate. But, if the GFR has significantly declined from a previous test result, this can be an early indicator of kidney disease requiring medical intervention. The sooner kidney dysfunction is diagnosed and treated, the greater odds of preserving remaining nephrons, and preventing the need for dialysis.)

GFR naturally declines with age. Patients in the study did not experience a decline in GFR. Fifty percent of patients taking Lipitor 80 mg were no longer classified as having chronic kidney disease.

Startling! What a week for statin research. It doesn't get much more exciting than this!


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