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Drugs. 2007;67 Suppl 1:29-42.

Atorvastatin efficacy in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Therapeutic Medicine, La Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


Atorvastatin has been extensively studied in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events, and may have some clinical advantages over various other statins in these respects. The principal primary prevention study of atorvastatin, ASCOT-LLA (Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial-Lipid Lowering Arm), revealed that atorvastatin reduced the relative risk of primary coronary heart disease (CHD) events by 36% (p = 0.0005) compared with placebo in patients with hypertension. Much published data confirm the secondary preventive benefits of atorvastatin in various clinical settings. The IDEAL (Incremental Decrease in End Points Through Aggressive Lipid Lowering) and TNT (Treating to New Targets) trials demonstrate the preventive efficacy of atorvastatin in patients with stable CHD. Relative to simvastatin (in the IDEAL trial) and low-dosage atorvastatin (in the TNT trial), intensive atorvastatin therapy (80 mg/day) reduced the risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI) by 17-22% (p < or = 0.02). Furthermore, the ALLIANCE (Aggressive Lipid-Lowering Initiation Abates New Cardiac Events) and GREACE (GREek Atorvastatin and Coronary-heart-disease Evaluation) trials highlight the benefits of atorvastatin in the 'real world' setting in patients with stable CHD. Compared with 'usual' care, atorvastatin reduced the risk of nonfatal MI by 47-59% (p < or = 0.0002).Moreover, the MIRACL (Myocardial Ischemia Reduction with Aggressive Cholesterol Lowering), PROVE-IT (PRavastatin Or atorVastatin Evaluation and Infection Therapy) and IDEAL-ACS (Acute Coronary Syndromes) studies outline the benefits of high-dosage atorvastatin therapy started within 24-96 hours, 10 days or 2 months, respectively, of an acute coronary syndrome. Relative to placebo, pravastatin and simvastatin, atorvastatin reduced the risk of death or major cardiovascular events by 16-18% (p < or = 0.048). In patients undergoing revascularisation procedures, the AVERT (Atorvastatin VErsus Revascularisation Treatment) study revealed that 18 months' administration of atorvastatin 80 mg/day was at least as effective as angioplasty plus usual care in reducing the risk of ischaemic events in low-risk patients with stable coronary artery disease. Furthermore, the ARMYDA (Atorvastatin for Reduction in MYocardial DAmage during angioplasty) and ARMYDA-3 trials showed that 7 days' administration of atorvastatin 40 mg/day before coronary intervention significantly reduced the risks of periprocedural myocardial damage (ARMYDA), postprocedural MI (p = 0.025; ARMYDA) and atrial fibrillation (p = 0.003; ARMYDA-3) versus placebo. In addition, it has been reported that C-reactive protein levels and the combined incidence of cardiovascular events (death, MI and target segment revascularisation during the 6-month follow-up) were significantly higher in coronaropathic patients undergoing non-surgical revascularisation procedures (stent implantation) not receiving statin therapy compared with those treated with atorvastatin (80mg). Overall, therefore, the marked efficacy of atorvastatin in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events underscores the pivotal place that this statin has in general cardiovascular disease management, and suggests even greater potential clinical utility for the drug in some clinical settings.

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