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Using Statins for PAD Patients Lowers Risk of Amputation, Death

May 08, 2016 08:28 PM EDT

A new study shows the patients suffering from peripheral artery disease (PAD) and at the same taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may have a lower risk of amputation and death compared to those PAD patients that don't take statins.

"PAD, a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head, is the next cardiovascular epidemic. It is poorly recognized and not adequately treated compared to heart disease - and research is lacking on the optimal use of statins for PAD patients," said Shipra Arya, M.D., S.M., study lead author and assistant professor, division of vascular surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, said in a press release.

According to the study presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology | Peripheral Vascular Disease 2016 Scientific Sessions, PAD patients who are taking high dosage of statins have 33 percent lower risk of amputation and 29 percent lower risk of death compared to those not taking statins.

For the study, researchers analyzed health information and health status more than 208,000 veterans with PAD from the database of Veteran's affairs. Researchers then followed the veterans and identified those on statin medications (and the dose) around the time of PAD diagnosis They divided the study population into three groups-those taking high doses of statins, low to moderate statin doses and no statins, then assessed their risk of amputation and death.

Researchers found out that PAD patients with higher dosage of statins has the lowest risk of amputation and death.

On the other hand, PAD patients belonging to low to moderate statin doses 22 percent lower risk of amputation and death than those who are not taking statins.

The study authors recommend patients who have been diagnosed with PAD should consider placement on high dose statins upon diagnosis if they can tolerate it, along with other medical management, including smoking cessation, antiplatelet therapy and a walking program.

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