To evaluate and compare the lipid-altering effects of conjugated estrogens and pravastatin, alone and in combination, in postmenopausal women with hypercholesterolemia.
This was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 4 parallel groups. Participants (N = 76) were randomly assigned to receive conjugated estrogens, 0.625 mg/d; pravastatin sodium, 20 mg/d; conjugated estrogens plus pravastatin; or a placebo for 16 weeks.
Primary end points were changes in serum lipid parameters. Among participants treated with conjugated estrogens, levels of non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) (13.0%) and calculated low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (13.5%) decreased, while levels of HDL-C (22.5%) and triglycerides (4.2%) increased. Participants in the pravastatin group achieved reductions of 23.7% and 25.4% in non-HDL-C and calculated LDL-C levels, respectively. Levels of HDL-C increased slightly (3.7%) and triglycerides decreased by 12.1%. Among participants treated with a combination of conjugated estrogens plus pravastatin, the non-HDL-C (-25.2%) and calculated LDL-C (-28.7%) responses were similar to those of the pravastatin group, and the HDL-C response (21.2%) was similar to that observed in the conjugated estrogens group. Triglyceride levels remained similar to baseline (-0.9%) in the combined treatment group.
Administration of conjugated estrogens resulted in potentially antiatherogenic changes in levels of non-HDL-C, HDL-C, and calculated LDL-C. The HDL-C response to combined treatment was similar to that observed in women taking conjugated estrogens alone, while the non-HDL-C and LDL-C responses to combined treatment were similar to those produced by pravastatin therapy alone. These findings support the position of the National Cholesterol Education Program that estrogen replacement, with a progestin where indicated, should be given consideration as a therapeutic option for the management of hypercholesterolemia in postmenopausal women.