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Cholesterol-lowering drug improves survival after heart transplant

Transplanted hearts stayed healthier in patients who took a cholesterol-lowering drug, according to an eight-year study reported in today’s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. After eight years, the survival rate for patients who received early simvastatin treatment was 88.6 percent compared to 59.5 percent of patients who didn’t start simvastatin treatment until four years after transplant, says the study’s lead author. The team also studied the effects of simvastatin on the development of coronary artery thickening called transplant vasculopathy, which is a major long term complication of heart transplantation. Early simvastatin treatment cut in half the incidence of vessel thickening as measured by angiography, which probably explained the improved survival rate.