Survival in ALS Prolonged With High Lipid Levels
Hyperlipidemia appears to provide an important survival benefit in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a French study published in the March 25 print issue of Neurology and online January 16. (I know, ancient history in the blogosphere, but to paraphrase former SNL news anchor Norm Macdonald, it’s news to me). Specifically ALS patients with a high LDL:HDL ratio lived approximately 1 year longer than those patients with a low ratio (median survival: 49.2 ± 4.2 vs 36.7 ± 2.7 months)—a remarkable difference. For comparison purposes, riluzole (Rilutek; sanofi-aventis), the only FDA approved medication for ALS, has been shown to prolong survival by 2-3 months.
The study also confirmed that a substantial percentage of individuals with ALS exhibit findings consistent with hyperlipidemia. As a group, the ALS patients examined by the French investigators demonstrated significantly higher levels of total and LDL cholesterol and a significantly higher LDL:HDL ratio than age- and sex-matched controls.
Given their findings, the study authors advise against the use of lipid-lowering medications in ALS patients and strongly recommend that nutritional status should be made a priority in affected individuals. A letter in response to the French study reminded readers of a 2007 report in Drug Safety, which suggested that statin therapy may increase the risk of ALS or an ALS-like condition.
More detailed coverage of the French study and related information can be found in the April 17 issue of Neurology Today (however, online access is typically delayed several weeks and may require a subscription).