2013 Cholesterol Guidelines Revisited: Percent LDL Cholesterol Reduction or Attained LDL Cholesterol Level or Both for Prognosis?

Sripal Bangalore, Rana Fayyad, John J Kastelein, Rachel Laskey, Pierre Amarenco, David A DeMicco, David D Waters
American Journal of Medicine 2016, 129 (4): 384-91

BACKGROUND: The 2013 American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol recommends moderate- to high-intensity statins for patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease but departs from the traditional treat-to-target approach. Whether percent low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) reduction or attained LDL-C levels add incremental prognostic value to statin dose is not known.

METHODS: Patients in the Treating to New Targets (TNT), Incremental Decrease in Endpoints through Aggressive Lipid Lowering (IDEAL), and Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) trials (patient-level data) randomized to a statin arm (atorvastatin 80 mg/10 mg or simvastatin 20 mg) were chosen. Patients were divided into groups based on attained LDL-C levels (≤70 vs >70 mg/dL) and percent LDL-C reduction (≥50% vs <50%). Primary outcome was major cardiovascular event defined as death due to coronary heart disease, nonfatal myocardial infarction, resuscitated cardiac arrest, or stroke. Incremental prognostic value was assessed by using a forward conditional Cox proportional hazards model. Two models were tested: Model 1: Step 1 statin dose; Step 2 add attained LDL-C levels (continuous variable); Step 3 add percent LDL-C reduction (continuous variable). Model 2: Steps 2 and 3 were reversed.

RESULTS: Among 13,937 patients included in this study, percent LDL-C reduction added incremental prognostic value over both statin dose and attained LDL-C levels (global chi-square increased from 3.64 to 26.1 to 47.5; P <.0001). However, attained LDL-C level did not provide incremental prognostic value over statin dose and percent LDL-C reduction (global chi-square increased from 3.64 to 47.5 to 47.5; P <.0001 and .94, respectively). Among patients with attained LDL-C ≤70 mg/dL, those with percent LDL-C reduction of <50% had a significantly higher risk of primary outcome (hazard ratio [HR], 1.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16-1.97; P = .002) and stroke (HR, 2.07; 95% CI, 1.46-2.93; P <.0001) and a numerically higher risk of death (HR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.98-1.90; P = .06) when compared with the group with percent LDL-C reduction of ≥50%.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, percent LDL-C reduction provides incremental prognostic value over statin dose and attained LDL-C levels. However, the attained LDL-C level does not provide additional prognostic value over statin dose and percent LDL-C reduction.


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