Update for Primary Healthcare Providers: Recent Statin Trials and Revised National Cholesterol Education Program III Guidelines

Charles H. Hennekens, MD; Danielle Hollar, PhD; Rachel S. Eidelman, MD; Arthur S. Agatston, MD, FACC

In This Article


Statins produce large, clinically important beneficial effects on total low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol -- each of which increases the risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD). In randomized trials of secondary and primary prevention, and their meta-analyses, statins confer statistically significant, clinically important reductions in myocardial infarction, stroke, and CVD death. In 2001, the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III included LDL as the primary target, recommending optional goals of < 100 mg/dL for high-risk patients, < 130 mg/dL for moderate-risk patients, and < 160 mg/dL for low-risk patients. We conducted a search of randomized trials of statins whose results were published since May 15, 2001. We extracted overall trial results and data on adverse events, when available. We reviewed 7 published trials of statins, some of which contributed to the recent addendum to the NCEP ATP III guidelines that recommend reducing LDL goals to < 70 for very high-risk and < 100 for moderately high-risk patients via statins. Data from these trials demonstrate that greater LDL reductions produce larger CVD benefits in various categories of high- and moderate-risk patients, including a large number of primary prevention patients with metabolic syndrome who should be treated as aggressively as patients who have survived a myocardial infarction or stroke. Together, these recent statin trials and the NCEP ATP III revised guidelines, if implemented by primary healthcare providers, would result in many more patients receiving statins of proven benefit and reassuring adverse event profile.




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