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Researchers discover new risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and a way to control it

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Published: 9 Nov 2008

MUHC serves as Canadian centre for international study that could revolutionize treatment options

MUHC serves as Canadian centre for international study that could revolutionize treatment options

Media Clip:
Interview with Dr. Genest

Editorial - Expanding the Orbit of Primary Prevention - Moving beyond JUPITER 

Rosuvastatin to Prevent Vascular Events in Men and Women  with Elevated C-Reactive Protein 

A team of international researchers – including scientists from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University – have discovered that having high levels of particular protein puts patients at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The results of the study were so conclusive that the clinical trial had to be stopped before its scheduled completion date.

 

The study is published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, and presented at the 2008 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association.

Researchers associated with the international JUPITER Project have demonstrated that high levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This risk decreases by up to 44% if the patients are treated with statin medications.

Dr. Jacques Genest, of the Research Institute of the MUHC and McGill’s Faculty of Medicine led the Canadian component of the JUPITER clinical study, which was initiated by Dr. Paul Ridker of the Harvard University Faculty of Medicine.

“The risk of cardiovascular disease due to increased hs-CRP levels has been greatly underestimated until now,” according to Dr Genest. “Our results show that this is an extremely important indicator that doctors will have to consider in the future.”

“We hope that this study will prompt a review of current clinical practices, especially in terms of screening and prevention in adults,” he added. “However, we still need to do more research to establish specific standards.”

The JUPITER study included 17,802 patients from 27 different countries. All had normal levels of cholesterol (LDL-c) and high levels of hs-CRP, and according to current standards, were not considered “at risk” for cardiovascular events, and were therefore not receiving any treatment. During the study, participants received a daily dose of the statin drug rosuvastin, and its consequences were striking: a 44% decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% decrease in mortality.

“These results definitely surpassed our predictions,” said Dr. Genest. “We had to stop the study before its scheduled completion, as the benefit of the treatment for the selected patients was so great that we needed to present our findings to the medical community as soon as possible.”

Since statins have a cholesterol-lowering effect, they are currently used to prevent cardiovascular disease in patients who are at-risk due to high LDL-c levels. But cardiovascular disease is also caused by vascular inflammation, which is marked by levels of hs-CRP. This study shows that statins indeed act on both cholesterol and inflammation, an effect that has long been suspected but not proven.

This clinical study was investigators-initiated and funded by Astra Zeneca.

Dr. Jacques Genest is Director of Cardiology at the MUHC and Director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Laboratory at the Research Institute of the MUHC. He also holds the Novartis Chair in Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University.

About the Research Institute of the MUHC

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, the university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 600 researchers, nearly 1200 graduate and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge.

The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec. For further details visit: www.muhc.ca/research.

About McGill University

McGill, Canada’s leading university, has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 33,000 students. Since 2000, more than 800 professors have been recruited to McGill to share their energy, ideas and cutting-edge research. McGill attracts students from more than 160 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

Contact Information

Contact: Cynthia Lee
Organization: Media Relations Officer - McGill University
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