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Am Fam Physician. 2011 Sep 1;84(5):551-8.

Pharmacologic treatment of hyperlipidemia.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Fox Valley Family Medicine Residency Program, Appleton, WI 54911, USA.


Pharmacologic treatment of hyperlipidemia in conjunction with therapeutic lifestyle changes can be used for both primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Statins have the most convincing data for primary prevention, especially for higher risk patients. Therefore, risk stratification is essential. Statin therapy is also recommended for secondary prevention in all patients with known cardiovascular disease or the risk equivalent. High-dose statins should be initiated in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Omega-3 fatty acids may be a good alternative after myocardial infarction for patients who cannot tolerate statins. Fibrates and niacin have not been shown to reduce all-cause mortality in secondary prevention, but may be useful adjuncts when statins alone cannot adequately control lipid levels. Other cholesterol-lowering medications used for primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease have not been shown to consistently improve patient-oriented outcomes. There is good evidence for using statins in the secondary prevention of stroke and peripheral arterial disease.

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