Cardiovascular risk changes after lipid lowering medications: Are they predictable?

Cesare R. Sirtori, Laura Calabresi, Roberto Marchioli, Hanna B. Rubins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Changes in cardiovascular risk after lipid lowering medications are generally expressed as relative risk reduction (RRR). Comparison of the eight major studies published in this last decade indicates that the RRRs ranged from a minimum (19%) for the LRC Study with cholestyramine, to maximal values of 34-37% for studies such as the HHS, 4S and AFCAPS/TexCAPS. These RRRs were barely related to the drugs' effects on major lipid parameters, e.g. LDL cholesterol. Instead, by using the absolute risk reduction (ARRs), easily calculated by subtracting the percentage end points for the drug treated from these values of the placebo group in all studies, a wide range of values was found, also adding to the series a non pharmacological study such as the Program on the Surgical Control of the Hyperlipidemias (POSCH) trial. Calculated ARRs were directly correlated to the baseline cardiovascular (CV) risk in all studies, thus allowing an easy prediction of a drug's effect in the selected population. Drugs with different mechanisms (statins, fibrates and resins) all fitted into this correlation nomogram. These findings clearly indicate that the CV effects of lipid changes, such as LDL cholesterol and triglyceride reduction or HDL rises, are in the same direction, and can be well predicted. The similar, almost identical behavior of drugs affecting LDL cholesterolemia to a different degree or not at all, indicates that novel approaches should be sought to improve risk reduction and that individual therapy should be ideally pursued, rather than a 'one drug' approach. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Absolute risk
  • Absolute risk reduction
  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Cholesterol lowering
  • HDL raising
  • Relative risk reduction
  • Risk prediction


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