Rising to the challenge of treating high-risk patients

Robert M Guthrie
American Journal of Managed Care 2006, 12 (11): S318-24
Guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) focus the need for the most intensive efforts to lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in the patients at greatest risk of a major future clinical coronary heart disease event. Major clinical trials, such as Pravastatin or Atorvastatin Evaluation and Infection Therapy and the Heart Protection Study, demonstrated the value of lowering LDL-C levels in high-risk patients to well below the ATP III target of <100 mg/dL. In 2004, the NCEP writing group suggested that a more aggressive LDL-C goal of <70 mg/dL is an option when treating high-risk patients, particularly those with the presence of established cardiovascular disease plus major multiple risk factors (especially diabetes), severe and poorly controlled risk factors (ie, cigarette smoking), multiple criteria of the metabolic syndrome, or an acute coronary syndrome. With stricter targets, high-risk patients are less likely to achieve their cholesterol goals than lower risk patients. Recent large trials comparing rosuvastatin with other statin monotherapies have shown a greater LDL-C reduction and better attainment of goals with rosuvastatin. In addition, the MERCURY [Measuring Effective Reductions in Cholesterol Using Rosuvastatin Therapy] trials demonstrate that switching to rosuvastatin significantly increased the percentage of patients who achieved their ATP III LDL-C targets.

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