PURPOSE: Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in postmenopausal women. Among statins, pravastatin has been shown to significantly reduce fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events in primary and secondary prevention trials. The aim of the present research was to investigate whether treatment with pravastatin can modify some indices of cardiovascular risk in healthy postmenopausal women such as significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
METHODS: 20 patients were randomized in double-blind fashion to treatment for eight weeks with either pravastatin 40 mg/day or placebo, and subsequently, after one-week wash-out, crossed-over to the alternative treatment (placebo or pravastatin) for the following eight weeks. We performed clinical and laboratory investigations, before and at the end of each treatment period, to evaluate patient response to the treatment with pravastatin.
RESULTS: After eight weeks pravastatin therapy reduced the median low density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol (p < 0.01 in both cases). In contrast, insulin level and insulin sensitivity did not show any difference with regard to values observed after placebo treatment. The absolute number of endothelial progenitor cells-colony forming unit (EPC-CFU) was significantly increased by pravastatin treatment (30.6% increase, p < 0.05) and the number of senescent cells was significantly decreased. However pravastatin did not increase tube-like formation by EPC and did not improve endothelial function.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite beneficial effect on lipids and EPC, short term pravastatin does not seem to improve other cardiovascular risk factors, at least in healthy postmenopausal women