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J Lipid Res. 2006 Jan;47(1):1-14. Epub 2005 Oct 15.

The pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. An interpretive history of the cholesterol controversy, part IV: the 1984 coronary primary prevention trial ends it--almost.

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Department of Medicine, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


As of the early 1980s, despite the wealth of evidence from experimental animal models, the extensive epidemiologic evidence, the powerful genetic evidence, and the strongly suggestive clinical intervention trial results, most clinicians still remained unpersuaded regarding the relevance of the lipid hypothesis. What was needed was a well-designed, large-scale, long-term, double-blind study demonstrating a statistically significant impact of treatment on coronary heart disease events. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) had laid the groundwork for such a study as early as 1970, but the study was not completed and the results published until 1984. This study, the Coronary Primary Prevention Trial, showed that treatment with a bile acid binding resin reduced major coronary events in hypercholesterolemic men by 19%, with a P value of 0.05. The NIH followed this up with a national Consensus Development Conference on Lowering Blood Cholesterol to Prevent Heart Disease. For the first time, the NIH now went on record advocating screening for hypercholesterolemia and urging aggressive treatment for those at high risk. The Institute initiated a national cooperative program to that end, the National Cholesterol Education Program. For the first time, preventing coronary heart disease became a national public health goal.

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