Statin pretreatment lessens myocardial damage after ischemia and reperfusion

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Investigators at Louisiana State University in Shreveport report that treating mice with simvastatin prior to induced myocardial ischemia, attenuates subsequent myocardial dysfunction.

Dr. David J. Lefer and colleagues randomized animals to placebo or to simvastatin administered for as long as 18 hours prior to the ischemic episode. "Pretreatment with simvastatin attenuated myocardial injury after 30 minutes of myocardial ischemia and 24 hours of reperfusion," the investigators write. They add that the protective effect of the drug was not observed unless it had been administered at least 3 hours prior to the event.

Infarct size was reduced by 51% in the simvastatin-treated animals compared with controls. Active treatment also significantly reduced left ventricular diastolic and systolic dilatation.

Simvastatin also significantly reduced the increase in left ventricular end-diastolic pressure relative to baseline (21 mm Hg in controls, versus 5 mm Hg in study animals). Dr. Lefer and colleagues note that the greater left ventricular end-diastolic pressure in control animals "likely results from alterations in myocardial compliance that are due to the larger area of myocardial infarction."

In their study, published in the December issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association, the investigators call for more studies on the effect of statin therapy both before and after myocardial ischemia. They believe that their findings "may have profound implications for the future treatment of myocardial injury and preservation of function after ischemia."

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