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Heart attacks fall in one diverse community, with perhaps lessons for others

June 10, 2010 |  3:08 pm

Statins Take detailed data (if you can get it) on heart attacks in a large, diverse patient population, do a bit of number-crunching based on patient age and gender, and see what you get. Kaiser Permanente researchers could, and did, in Northern California -- and what they got was an impressive reduction in heart attacks since 2000.

Overall, heart attacks declined 24% in patients age 30 and older. The rate of a severe type of heart attack, known as ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, fell by 62%.

The results were published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Here's the abstract of that heart-attack study and some details from the research division's news release.

The researchers write in their study conclusion:

"Increasing emphasis has been put on measures to reduce risk factors at the individual and community levels, including public bans on smoking and lower target levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and blood pressure; these changes have resulted in improved control of risk factors over time."

They also point out that such improvements were achieved despite the community's overall tendency to gain weight and develop diabetes.

Here's more about heart attack types, from the Cleveland Clinic. And an explainer of the two main types -- ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, and non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, or NSTEMI -- from

In the former, a blood clot blocks an artery completely (as opposed to partially), affecting more heart muscle and causing more damage.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: The use of statins and other cardioprotective drugs, now taken by many people, certainly haven't hurt heart attack numbers, the researchers say.

Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times


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Comments (2)

The abstract doesn't indicate whether the study authors had any industry tie, like payments from statin or stent manufacturers. A study like this must have received funding from somewhere.

And death certificates allow for wide variation in the causes listed. I have known several people whose death certificates indicated that their deaths were caused by heart failure, when in fact their hearts failed because they were not getting enough oxygen from lungs damaged by decades of smoking. Decreased deaths attributed to heart attacks may just reflect changing definitions of death causes, and not any magic from highly profitable (and over-prescribed) statins and stents.

Jim Purdy

That is the time period when millions of people went on DR Atkins Low Carb Diet.


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