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Merck & Co., Inc., recently announced that people with high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes cut their risk of a heart attack by as much as 42 percent when taking Zocor, their cholesterol-lowering drug.
According to results of the 5-year Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival study, Zocor also reduced the risk of death from heart disease by 55 percent in people with high cholesterol and heart disease who were also considered at risk for developing diabetes. The results of the study were published in the December 13, 1999 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 94 clinical centers in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. There were 483 people with diabetes, 678 people with impaired fasting glucose levels, and 3,237 people with normal fasting glucose who were evaluated over a period of 5.4 years. All patients had elevated cholesterol levels between 212 and 309 mg/dl and received either 20 mg. of Zocor daily or a placebo. That dose was increased to 40 mg. daily in patients who did not reach targeted cholesterol levels of 116 to 201 mg/dl.
Zocor also reduced their risk of undergoing a bypass or angioplasty by 48 percent.
According to news wire sources, lead researcher Steven M. Haffner, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, said, "Diabetes and heart disease can be a deadly combination, but lowering high cholesterol in people who either have diabetes, or are at risk of developing it, can improve the outlook considerably." Haffner adds that only treating blood sugar levels is not enough, "...patients also need to take the right steps to control their cholesterol and blood pressure."
It was reported that Zocor should not be used by anyone with liver disease. In addition, doctors should perform blood tests before and periodically during treatment with Zocor to check for liver problems. In addition, patients taking the 80 mg. strength of Zocor should receive an additional liver function test at three months. Also, Zocor should not be taken by women who are pregnant, breast-feeding or likely to become pregnant.
Most commonly reported side effects in patients taking Zocor included headache (3.5 percent), abdominal pain (3.2 percent) and constipation (2.3 percent).
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