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Am J Cardiol. 1993 Apr 1;71(10):759-65.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of lipid-lowering therapy (bile acid sequestrants, niacin, psyllium and lovastatin) for treating hypercholesterolemia in veterans.

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Department of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226.


Veterans are frequently older, have more chronic illnesses, and take more medications than subjects volunteering for clinical trials. Because these factors may impair the effectiveness of lipid-lowering drug therapy, the effectiveness of drug therapy in veterans may differ from that measured in randomized controlled trials. In 297 patients with type IIa hyperlipidemia attending a large Veterans Administration Medical Center lipid clinic, adverse effects, compliance, lipid and lipoprotein responses to drug therapy were prospectively monitored. Bile acid sequestrants (4 packets/day) were associated with a high rate of adverse effects, and had the highest drug discontinuance rate (37%) and poorest compliance (73 +/- 3% of the doses prescribed reported ingested) of all agents. Patients aged > 60 years tolerated therapy with bile acid sequestrants less well than did younger veterans (p < 0.01). Niacin (1.5 g/day) also had a high drug discontinuance rate (27%). Lovastatin (20 mg/day) had the lowest drug discontinuance rate (2%) and the highest compliance (90 +/- 2%). Lovastatin also reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol the most (-21.6 +/- 2.0%), whereas niacin produced the largest increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (+/- 14.3 +/- 2.2%); both niacin and lovastatin produced similar reductions in the LDL/HDL ratio. However, psyllium (10.4 g/day) reduced LDL cholesterol by only 2%, and had no effect on the LDL/HDL ratio. Psyllium produced larger LDL cholesterol reductions in patients aged < 60 years than in older patients (p < 0.01). Niacin and lovastatin are effective drugs for hypercholesterolemia management in the Veterans Administration Medical Center setting.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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