Total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in high-risk patients treated with atorvastatin monotherapy in the United Kingdom: analysis of a primary-care database

Kevin Jameson, Qiaoyi Zhang, Changgeng Zhao, Dena Rosen Ramey, Andrew M Tershakovec, Stephen W Gutkin, Elizabeth Marrett
Current Medical Research and Opinion 2014, 30 (4): 655-65

OBJECTIVE: British clinical guidelines recommend statins as first-line lipid-modifying treatment (LMT) for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). We undertook an observational study to assess total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels in high-risk patients who were treated with atorvastatin monotherapy by UK general practitioners.

METHODS: This retrospective database study included patients with a prescription for atorvastatin monotherapy between November 30, 2008, and November 30, 2011, with the index date defined as the first atorvastatin prescription during this period. Eligible high-risk patients with evidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), atherosclerotic vascular disease (AVD), diabetes mellitus (DM), or familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) were required to have ≥1 TC and LDL-C measurement between 3 and 12 months after the index date, and continuous enrollment 1 year before and 1 year after the index date. Cholesterol levels were assessed using the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines: TC <4.0 mmol/L or LDL-C <2.0 mmol/L.

RESULTS: Of 2999 high-risk patients (60.2% men; mean [SD] age = 67.9 [10.6] years) meeting selection criteria, 23.9% 28.2%, 36.2%, and 11.6% received prescriptions for atorvastatin 10, 20, 40, and 80 mg, respectively (percentages do not sum to 100 because of rounding). Across all doses, the mean (SD) follow-up TC was 4.08 (0.80) mmol/L and LDL-C 2.08 (0.65) mmol/L. A large proportion of patients (88.8%) had TC < 5.0 mmol/L. However, only 45.8% had TC < 4.0 mmol/L, and 46.5% had LDL-C < 2.0 mmol/L. Although a larger proportion of patients with CHD/AVD + DM reached guideline-recommended lipid levels, only 63.7% of such patients had TC < 4.0 or LDL-C < 2.0 mmol/L, which are the current targets for this subgroup as recommended by NICE.

CONCLUSIONS: Less than half of UK high-CVD-risk patients receiving atorvastatin monotherapy achieved guideline-recommended treatment targets for TC, and less than two-thirds of patients with CHD/AVD + DM had values below TC (4.0 mmol/L) or LDL-C (2.0 mmol/L) targets. More effective lipid-lowering strategies may be warranted to optimize cholesterol lowering and target attainment in high-risk patients. Limitations of this study include its retrospective, observational nature.

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