Recent Blog Articles

Heart Beat: Statins before vascular surgery

November 1, 2009

Heart Beat

Statins before vascular surgery

If you need vascular surgery to fix a narrowed, ruptured, or otherwise damaged blood vessel, don't be surprised if your doctor asks you to start taking a statin (if you don't already) before the operation. Doing so can help avoid postoperative myocardial ischemia — a shortage of blood flow to the heart muscle. In a large Dutch trial called DECREASE III, taking fluvastatin (Lescol) for a month before and after surgery also halved the number of postoperative deaths and heart attacks from 10% among those who didn't take fluvastatin to 5% among those who did (New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 3, 2009).

Heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events happen fairly often after vascular procedures such as removing fat deposits from a carotid artery (carotid endarterectomy), repairing an abdominal aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection, stripping varicose veins, or opening a clogged leg artery. Sometimes they happen because of a supply-demand mismatch for oxygenated blood in the heart muscle. Other times the surgery causes a cholesterol-filled plaque inside a coronary artery to burst. This creates a clot that can block blood flow to part of the heart, causing a heart attack, or to part of the brain, causing a stroke. Statins may stabilize plaques. They may also calm the inflammation that is part of the mechanics of plaque rupture.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.