Applied Evidence

Translating AHA/ACC cholesterol guidelines into meaningful risk reduction

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Adults with chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease that is not treated with dialysis or kidney transplantation is considered a risk-enhancing factor; initiation of a moderate-intensity statin or a moderate-intensity statin plus ezetimibe can be useful in patients with chronic kidney disease who are 40 to 75 years of age and have an LDL-C level of 70 to 189 mg/dL and a PCE-calculated risk ≥ 7.5%. In adults with advanced kidney disease that requires dialysis who are already taking a statin, it may be reasonable to continue the statin; however, initiation of a statin in adults with advanced kidney disease who require dialysis is not recommended because of an apparent lack of benefit.1

Adults with a chronic inflammatory disorder or human immunodeficiency virus infection. Any of these conditions are treated as risk-enhancing factors; in a risk discussion with affected patients, therefore, moderate-intensity statin therapy or high-intensity statin therapy is favored for those 40 to 75 years of age who have an LDL-C level of 70 to 189 mg/dL and PCE-calculated risk ≥ 7.5%. A fasting lipid profile and assessment of ASCVD risk factors for these patients can be useful (1) as a guide to the potential benefit of statin therapy and (2) for monitoring or adjusting lipid-lowering drug therapy before, and 4 to 12 weeks after, starting inflammatory disease-modifying therapy or antiretroviral therapy.

In adults with rheumatoid arthritis who undergo ASCVD risk assessment with a lipid profile, it can be useful to recheck lipid values and other major ASCVD risk factors 2 to 4 months after the inflammatory disease has been controlled.1

Primary hypercholesterolemia

The diagnosis and management of heterozygous or homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH or HoFH) is beyond the scope of the 2018 ACC/AHA cholesterol guidelines; instead, the 2015 AHA Scientific Statement, “The Agenda for Familial Hypercholesterolemia,” provides a contemporary review of these topics.23 However, the 2018 cholesterol guideline does acknowledge that an LDL-C level ≥ 190 mg/dL often corresponds to primary (ie, genetic) hypercholesterolemia.

In patients 20 to 75 years of age who have a primary elevation of LDL-C level ≥ 190 mg/dL, the guideline recommends initiation of high-intensity statin therapy without calculating ASCVD risk using the PCE. If a > 50% LDL-C reduction is not achieved, or if the LDL-C level on maximally tolerated statin therapy remains ≥ 100 mg/dL, adding ezetimibe is considered reasonable. If there is < 50% reduction in the LDL-C level while taking maximally tolerated statin and ezetimibe therapy, adding a bile-acid sequestrant can be considered, as long as the TG level is not > 300 mg/dL (ie, bile-acid sequestrants can elevate the TG level significantly).

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