A common blood thinner was found to surprisingly lower the risk of amputation or even death in many people.
A new study suggests that statins, widely used by people with heart problems to lower cholesterol, could also save a person’s life or prevent an amputation.
Scientists found this connection in people with narrowed leg arteries. It’s a growing problem in the medical community that researchers worry is becoming the next cardiac-related epidemic, and this new finding shows promise for those who have it, according to an American Heart Association statement.
The study was based on health information from 200,000 with peripheral artery disease (PAD), which involves narrowing of the arteries, particularly in the legs and arms, as well as the head and stomach.
The study found that those who took high doses of statins were 33 percent less likely to experience an amputation, and 29 percent less likely to die than those who did not. It also found that moderate or low doses resulted in a 22 percent lower risk for both, suggesting that the higher the dose of statins, the greater the effect.
“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.
The statement adds: “Researchers studied health information and health status from the Veterans Affairs’ database for more than 208,000 veterans with PAD. During an average 5.2 years of follow up, researchers identified those on statin medications (and the dose) around the time of PAD diagnosis and followed the veterans to assess their risk of amputation or death. Researchers classified patients into three groups – those taking high doses of statins, low to moderate statin doses and no statins.”