U.S. scientists proved that giving a heart attack patient a statin drug reduces the chance of death by 50%.
Statin drugs are used to lower cholesterol levels and prevent strokes and heart attacks long-term, but the new study suggests that the drugs might join aspirin as something to give to patients immediately when they suffer a heart attack.
Fonarow and colleagues looked at the records of more than 170,000 heart attack patients.
"We've known that long-term statin therapy is beneficial, but this study provides the strongest clinical evidence to date supporting the early cardioprotective effects of statins immediately following a heart attack," said cardiologist Dr. Gregg Fonarow of the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the study.
"As statins are already routinely started in myocardial infarction patients prior to hospital discharge, it would be relatively easy to administer this medication on arrival to the emergency department," Fonarow said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Those patients given statin drugs before hospitalization and within 24 hours after a heart attack had a 54 percent lower risk of dying in the hospital compared to patients not on statin therapy, they reported in the September issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.
The use of statins quickly after a heart attack was associated in the patients with a lower incidence of cardiac arrest, cardiac shock, cardiac rupture and ventricular fibrillation, the study found.
Fonarow said researchers next need to corroborate their findings by developing a clinical trial, which would involve controlled comparisons of the effects on patients.
About 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year.