Intensive statin therapy for Indians: Part-I. Benefits.Indian Heart J 2011 May-Jun; 63(3):211-27IH
The underlying disorder in the vast majority of cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is atherosclerosis, for which low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is recognized as the first and foremost risk factor. HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, popularly called statins, are highly effective and remarkably safe in reducing LDL-C and non-HDL-C levels. Evidence from clinical trials have demonstrated that statin therapy can reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, death, and the need for coronary artery revascularization procedures (CARPs) by 25-50%, depending on the magnitude of LDL-C lowering achieved. Benefits are seen in men and women, young and old, and in people with and without diabetes or prior diagnosis of CVD. Clinical trials comparing standard statin therapy to intensive statin therapy have clearly demonstrated greater benefits in CVD risk reduction (including halting the progression and even reversing coronary atherosclerosis) without any corresponding increase in risk. Numerous outcome trials of intensive statin therapy using atorvastatin 80 mg/d have demonstrated the safety and the benefits of lowering LDL-C to very low levels. This led the USNCEP Guideline Committee to standardize 40 mg/dL as the optimum LDL-C level, above which the CVD risk begins to rise. Recent studies have shown intensive statin therapy can also lower CVD events even in low-risk individuals with LDL-C <110 mg/dL. Because of the heightened risk of CVD in Asian Indians, the LDL-C target is set at 30 mg/dL lower than that recommended by NCEP. Accordingly, the LDL-C goal is < 70 mg/dL for Indians who have CVD, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or chronic kidney disease. Intensive statin therapy is often required in these populations as well as others who require a > or = 50% reduction in LDL-C. Broader acceptance of this lower LDL-C targets and its implementation could reduce the CVD burden in the Indian population by 50% in the next 25 years. Clinical trial data support an extremely favorable benefit-to-risk ratio of intensive statin therapy with some but not all statins. Atorvastatin 80 mg/d is 100 times safer than aspirin 81 mg/d and 10 times safer than diabetic medications. Intensive statin therapy is more effective and safe compared to intensive control of blood sugar or blood pressure in patients with diabetes.