The power of statins: aggressive lipid lowering.
Author(s): Stein EA
Affiliation(s): Medical Research Laboratories International, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. ESteinMRL@aol.com
Publication date & source: 2003-04, Clin Cardiol., 26(4 Suppl 3):III25-31.
Publication type: Review
A large body of evidence has demonstrated that reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) decrease the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and related adverse events. The greatest reductions in morbidity and mortality are attained in higher-risk patients, suggesting that targeting this group can maximize the cost-effectiveness of statins, since fewer patients need to be treated to prevent one event. High-risk individuals (those with preexisting CHD or CHD risk equivalents) require aggressive lipid lowering to achieve the stringent LDL-C goal levels established by the third report of the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP ATP III). The hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, or statins, have assumed the central role in this setting because of their superior ability to reduce LDL-C across the spectrum of CHD risk. Rosuvastatin, a new agent in this class, reduces LDL-C to a significantly greater degree than atorvastatin, pravastatin, or simvastatin. The more aggressive goals put forward since ATP I (1987) have heightened interest in more efficacious statins. As a result, simvastatin, atorvastatin, and now rosuvastatin have been developed, adding sequentially greater LDL-C-reducing capacity for the physician. Substantially more patients, particularly high-risk patients, are thereby able to achieve NCEP ATP III target LDL-C levels with rosuvastatin. Other cholesterol-lowering drugs (bile acid sequestrants, niacin, plant stanols, and fibrates) are much less effective at lowering LDL-C and are much less well tolerated but may be useful when combined with statins. A novel class of agents, cholesterol transport inhibitors, have recently become available.These and other new agents hold promise to help achieve ATP III goals when used in combination regimens initiated with a statin.