, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 19-25

Low-density lipoprotein reduction: Is the risk worth the benefit?

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Abstract

Outcomes from recent lipid-lowering trials have led to an update of the third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel’s guidelines for treatment of hypercholesterolemia in adults. The updated NCEP guidelines now offer an optional goal of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol of less than 70 mg/dL for high-risk individuals. Epidemiologic and clinical trial data suggest that for every 30-mg/dL change in LDL, the relative risk for coronary heart disease changes by about 30%. Statin therapy effectively lowers LDL and has an overall excellent safety profile in clinical trials. However, the use of high-dose statin therapy also entails greater risk of adverse events, such as myopathy and liver function test abnormalities, and this must be carefully weighed against the potential benefit for each patient. Alternative approaches targeting high-density lipoproteins and triglycerides may offer yet another option for coronary heart disease prevention in high-risk patients.