Health: Juggling Statins

A cholesterol-drug Bake-Off ends in a surprise. How low should your LDL go?

At first glance, you might think that the study released last week comparing the cholesterol-lowering drugs Lipitor and Pravachol--funded by Pravachol's maker--produced a surprise slam-dunk for Lipitor. After all, the trial of more than 4,000 patients showed that those who started taking Lipitor instead of Pravachol within a week or so after being hospitalized for a heart attack or unstable angina had a 16% lower rate of getting worse--dying, suffering a subsequent heart attack or stroke, or requiring bypass surgery. But the seemingly obvious conclusion is not necessarily the right one. Here's why.

Pravachol and Lipitor are both statins--a group of...

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