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Eur Heart J. 2016 May 1;37(17):1373-9. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehw046. Epub 2016 Feb 24.

Percent reduction in LDL cholesterol following high-intensity statin therapy: potential implications for guidelines and for the prescription of emerging lipid-lowering agents.

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The Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 900 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA
The Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 900 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



Current statin guidelines in Europe and Canada advocate achieving a fixed LDL target or the attainment of a ≥50% reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC), while current US guidelines advocate the use of statin therapies that reduce LDLC by <50% (moderate intensity) or ≥50% (high intensity). Data are limited, however, linking the achievement of these % reduction thresholds to subsequent cardiovascular outcomes particularly for contemporary high-intensity regimens.


In a randomized trial of 17 082 initially healthy men and women with median baseline LDLC of 108 mg/dL (interquartile range 94-119), we (i) used waterfall plots to assess the variability in LDLC response to rosuvastatin 20 mg daily and (ii) evaluated the impact of reaching ≥50% reductions in LDLC on risk of developing the first cardiovascular events. Among rosuvastatin allocated participants, 3640 individuals (46.3%) experienced an LDLC reduction ≥50%; 3365 individuals (42.8%) experienced an LDLC reduction >0 but <50%; and 851 individuals (10.8%) experienced no reduction or an increase in LDLC compared with baseline. These % LDLC reductions directly related to the risks of first cardiovascular events; at trial completion, incidence rates for the primary endpoint were 11.2, 9.2, 6.7, and 4.8 per 1000 person-years for those in the placebo, no LDLC reduction, LDLC reduction <50%, and LDLC reduction ≥50% groups, respectively. Compared with placebo, the multivariable adjusted hazard ratios for sequentially greater on-treatment per cent reductions in LDLC were 0.91 (95%CI 0.54-1.53), 0.61 (95%CI 0.44-0.83), and 0.43 (95%CI 0.30-0.60) (P < 0.00001). Similar relationships between % reduction and clinical outcomes were observed in analyses focusing on non-HDLC or apolipoprotein B.


As documented for low- and moderate-intensity regimens, variability in % LDLC reduction following high-intensity statin therapy is wide yet the magnitude of this % reduction directly relates to efficacy. These data support guideline approaches that incorporate % reduction targets for statin therapy as well as absolute targets, and might provide a structure for the allocation of emerging adjunctive lipid-lowering therapies such as PCSK9 inhibitors should these agents prove broadly effective for cardiovascular event reduction.


Apolipoprotein B; Guidelines; LDLC; PCSK9; Prevention; Statin therapy

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