Prescribing statins for patients with ACS? No need to wait

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The best time to start a statin in patients with acute coronary syndrome is before they undergo percutaneous coronary intervention.




Prescribe a high-dose statin before any patient with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) undergoes percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI); it may be reasonable to extend this to patients being evaluated for ACS.1

Strength of recommendation

A: Based on a meta-analysis

Navarese EP, Kowalewski M, Andreotti F, et al. Meta-analysis of time-related benefits of statin therapy in patients with acute coronary syndrome undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. Am J Cardiol. 2014;113:1753-1764.

Illustrative case

A 48-year-old man comes to the emergency department with chest pain and is diagnosed with ACS. He is scheduled to have PCI within the next 24 hours. When should you start him on a statin?

Statins are the mainstay pharmaceutical treatment for hyperlipidemia, and are used for primary and secondary prevention of coronary artery disease and stroke.2,3 Well-known for their cholesterol-lowering effect, they also have benefits that are independent of their effects on lipids, including improving endothelial function, decreasing oxidative stress, and decreasing vascular inflammation.4-6

Compared to patients with stable angina, patients with ACS experience markedly higher rates of coronary events, especially immediately before and after PCI and during the subsequent 30 days.1 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guidelines for the management of non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) advocate starting statins before patients are discharged from the hospital, but they don’t specify precisely when.7

Considering the higher risk of coronary events before and after PCI and statins’ pleiotropic effects, it is reasonable to investigate the optimal time for starting statins in patients with ACS.

STUDY SUMMARY: Meta-analysis of 20 RCTs shows
 statins before PCI cuts risk of MI

Navarese et al1 performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing the clinical outcomes of patients with ACS who received statins before or after PCI (statins group) vs those who received low-dose statins or no statins (control group). The authors searched PubMed, Cochrane, Google Scholar, and CINAHL databases as well as key conference proceedings for studies published before November 2013. Using reasonable inclusion and exclusion criteria and appropriate statistical methods, they analyzed the results of 20 randomized controlled trials that included 8750 patients. Four studies enrolled only patients with ST elevation MI, 8 were restricted to NSTEMI, and the remaining 8 studies enrolled patients with any type of MI or unstable angina.

For patients who were started on a statin before PCI, the mean timing of administration was 0.53 ± 0.42 days before. For those started after PCI, the average time to administration was 3.18 ± 3.56 days after.

Administering statins before PCI resulted
 in a greater reduction in the odds of MI than starting them afterward. Whether administered before or after PCI, statins reduced the incidence of MIs. The overall 30-day incidence of MIs was 3.4% (123 of 3621) in the statins group and 5% (179 of 3577) in the control group. This resulted in an absolute risk reduction of 1.6% (number needed to treat=62.5), and a reduction of the odds of MI by 33% (odds ratio [OR]=0.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53-0.84; P=.0007). There was also a trend toward reduced mortality in the statin group (OR=0.66; 95% CI, 0.43-1.02; P=.06).

In addition, administering statins before PCI resulted in a greater reduction in the odds of MI at 30 days (OR=0.38; 95% CI, 0.24-0.59; P<.0001) than starting them post-PCI (OR=0.85; 95% CI, 0.64-1.13; P=.28) when compared to the controls. The difference between the pre-PCI OR and the post-PCI OR was statistically significant (P=.002). These findings persisted past 30 days (P=.06).

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