PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Who benefits more from cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins – men or women?

Turns out, they both benefit.

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“Notoriously women have been understudied in cardiovascular trials. So to some extent this is a little bit confirming they do get benefit from statin therapy,” says Allegheny General Hospital cardiologist Dr. George Gabriel.

In a study in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology,” researchers reviewed more than 18 studies involving more than 140,000 patients – more than 40,000 of them women.

There are fewer heart attacks and fewer deaths of any cause among those taking statins and gender didn’t matter.

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“I don’t think it’s surprising at all. It’s the same disease in men and women,” Dr. Gabriel continues.

Statins raise good cholesterol, and reduce bad cholesterol. Having a high bad cholesterol level increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Drugs in this category include atorvastatin (or Lipitor), simvastatin (or Zocor), lovastatin (or Mevacor), and a few others.

For women who smoke, have a strong family history of heart disease, and also have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, taking this medicine can help reduce their risk.

It’s not yet recommended for everybody, including those at low risk, because of potential side effects, like muscle aches and liver issues.

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