Applied Evidence

Translating AHA/ACC cholesterol guidelines into meaningful risk reduction

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Guidelines are dynamic instruments that require constant updating, given the production of new evidence. In fact, the results of the Reduction of Cardiovascular Events With Icosapent Ethyl-Intervention Trial (REDUCE-IT) were presented at the same meeting at which this guideline was unveiled.29 REDUCE-IT demonstrated an astonishing highly significant 25% reduction in the composite primary major adverse cardiovascular event outcome in patients with an LDL-C level of 44 to 100 mg/dL on statin therapy, who had a TG level of 135 to 499 mg/dL and had been treated for a median of 4.9 years with 4 g of pure eicosapentaenoic acid.

In addition, the guideline’s value statements, which address the need to consider the cost of drugs in determining most appropriate treatment, are no longer accurate because the price of PCSK9 inhibitors has dropped by more than half since the guideline was issued.30

An upward climb to clinical payoff

Even after close study of the 2018 AHA/ACC cholesterol guideline, implementing it in practice might remain a challenge to clinicians who are inexperienced in ordering lipid markers such as Lp(a) and interpreting the CAC score. Moreover, initiating and monitoring nonstatin therapies will be a demanding task—especially with PCSK9 inhibitors, which present access difficulties because they are relatively expensive (even after the recent price cut). That’s why, when there is doubt in the mind of the physician or other provider, we will likely see more referrals to specialists in lipid management and ASCVD risk estimation to optimize preventive therapy.31

Cezary Wójcik, MD, PhD, FNLA, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Portland, OR 97239; [email protected]


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