THURSDAY, May 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins won't help people with kidney disease avoid dialysis, but the drugs do lower cholesterol in this group, researchers have found.
"Statins had no effect -- neither good nor bad -- on kidney function," study author Dr. Richard Haynes, of the University of Oxford in England, said in an American Society of Nephrology news release.
The study included over 6,000 patients with chronic kidney disease who didn't yet need dialysis, a process in which a machine does some of the kidney's blood-filtering tasks. About 60 million people worldwide have chronic kidney disease, according to background information in the news release.
People in the study randomly received either the cholesterol-lowering medication Vytorin, which is a combination of simvastatin plus the drug ezetimibe, or an inactive placebo.
The researchers followed the patients for five years. The drug combination lowered LDL cholesterol -- the bad type -- by an average of approximately 39 milligrams per deciliter compared to the placebo. But, it didn't affect the need for dialysis or kidney transplants in the study volunteers: about 34 percent in each group needed those treatments.
The study also confirmed that the drugs are safe for people with kidney disease to take. And, the authors noted, the drug's cholesterol-lowering properties help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Results of the study were published online May 1 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The study's main funder was Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, which makes Vytorin.
For more about kidney disease, go to the National Kidney Foundation.
SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, May 1, 2014