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Episode 5: Swiss Cheese & The Evidence Holes in the Lipid Hypothesis

In our fifth installment, we end our discussion of cholesterol outlining some of the remaining evidence gaps. Areas discussed are primary prevention for women, the use of other cholesterol reducing medicines, and the need for follow-up cholesterol testing for patients on statins. We avoid filling the evidence gaps with theory-based assumptions and close by discussing the endless fun in tests, doctors’ visits and taking medicines.

Show Notes

1) Absolute benefit of statins over approx 5 years

Major coronary events (%)* Death (%) Strokes (%) FROM WHAT CVD TO WHAT CVD (%)
Primary 1-1.5* 8-9 to 7
Diabetes 2 1-1.5 10 to 7
Secondary 4 2 1 20 to 15

* just in males and NO difference in overall serious adverse events

2) Meta-analysis data for mortality benefit with Statins in primary prevention

3) Ezetrol data

4) Fibrate data

5) Torcetrapib

6) Treating to Targets

  • Optimal targets “because all of the trials compared fixed-dose regimens of more intensive statin therapy with less intensive statin therapy and because none provided a breakdown of event rates by the level of LDL cholesterol reduction achieved, the available data cannot be used to define optimal target LDL cholesterol levels.”
  • No long-term data for adding other cholesterol meds to statins in order to hit targets “It is not enough that short-term trials with LDL cholesterol outcomes have demonstrated that other lipid-lowering agents can further lower LDL cholesterol when given along with statins. Large trials are needed to establish the clinical safety and effectiveness of combination therapy.”
  • High vs low dose statins in primary prevention. “the current literature provides limited insight into whether more intensive statin therapy should be used in patients without coronary artery disease but with multiple atherosclerotic risk factors” CMAJ 2008;178(5):576-84

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