Review| Volume 195, ISSUE 1, P1-6, November 2007

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To statin or to non-statin in coronary disease—considering absolute risk is the answer

  • Christopher M. Rembold
    Corresponding address: Box 801395, Cardiovascular Division, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA 22908-1395, USA. Tel.: +1 434 924 2825; fax: +1 434 243 0014.
    Cardiovascular Division, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
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      The newest guidelines for treating people with coronary artery disease (CAD) suggest benefit from statin-induced LDL cholesterol lowering regardless of baseline LDL cholesterol level. These guidelines were based on recent clinical trials that showed statistically significant statin-induced relative risk reductions (RRR) in cardiovascular events. However, there are proven “non-statin” anti-atheroscleroic treatments. This analysis was designed to allow the physician to decide which patients benefit from the various anti-atherosclerotic treatments available. Analysis is presented as absolute risk reduction (ARR) because ARR takes baseline risk into account. There was a large benefit from statin therapy in stable CAD when LDL cholesterol levels were high. There were diminishing returns, despite statistically significance, with statin treatment of people with chronic CAD and lower LDL cholesterol levels. People with chronic CAD and lower LDL cholesterol levels had at least as much and possibly twice the ARR when treated with niacin or gemfibrozil as that would occur with statin treatment. For the first year after the acute coronary syndrome, risk was higher than in stable CAD, and trials showed a benefit especially with a Mediterranean diet and also with statin therapy that reduced LDL cholesterol levels to ∼80 mg dl−1. The Mediterranean diet was also beneficial in chronic CAD. These results suggest that both statin and non-statin therapy are important for reducing the sequelae of atherosclerosis.


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