The ACC/AHA 2013 guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk in adults: the good the bad and the uncertain: a comparison with ESC/EAS guidelines for the management of dyslipidaemias 2011

Kausik K Ray, John J P Kastelein, S Matthijs Boekholdt, Stephen J Nicholls, Kay-Tee Khaw, Christie M Ballantyne, Alberico L Catapano, Željko Reiner, Thomas F Lüscher
European Heart Journal 2014, 35 (15): 960-8
Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is the most important public health problem of our time in both Europe and the rest of the world, accounting for the greatest expenditure in most healthcare budgets. Achieving consistency of clinical care, incorporating new evidence and their synthesis into practical recommendations for clinicians is the task of various guideline committees throughout the world. Any change in a set of guidelines therefore can have far reaching consequences, particularly if they appear to be at variance with the existing guidelines. The present article discusses the recent American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines 2013 on the control of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk in adults. When compared with the ESC/EAS guidelines on lipid modification in 2011, the ACC/AHA guidelines of 2013 differ markedly. Specifically, (i) the scope is limited to randomized trials only, which excludes a significant body of data and promotes essentially a statin centric approach only; (ii) the abolition of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) targets in favour of specific statin regimens that produce a 30-50% reduction in LDL-C we believe will confuse many physicians and miss the opportunity for medication adherence and patient engagement in self-management; (iii) the absence of target LDL-C levels in very high-risk patients with high absolute risk or residual risk factors will discourage clinicians to consider the addition of lipid modification treatments and individualize patient care; (iv) a reduction in the threshold for treatment in primary prevention will result in a greater number of patients being prescribed statin therapy, which is potentially good in young patients with high life time risk, but will result in a very large number of older patients offered therapy; and (v) the mixed pool risk calculator used to asses CVD risk in the guidelines for primary prevention has not been fully evaluated. This article discusses the potential implications of adopting the ACC/AHA guidelines on patient care in Europe and beyond and concludes with the opinion that the ESC/EAS guidelines from 2011 seem to be the most wide ranging, pragmatic and appropriate choice for European countries.

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