While cost-effectiveness analyses of anti-hyperlipidemia programs featuring drug treatment suggest that the best use of public dollars is to delay treatment until an individual develops coronary heart disease, a comprehensive hyperlipidemia treatment policy must take a broader perspective. The high case-fatality rates of patients exhibiting first manifestations of coronary heart disease, the limited population impact of interventions aimed solely at high risk groups, the cost of testing to identify the high risk segment of the population, the social origins of the behavioral risk factors for coronary heart disease, and the perspective of the individual must also be considered. Available data suggest that the best public policy to control the burden of heart disease is one with two components: On the one hand, all individuals without clinically manifest heart disease would be encouraged to adopt healthy behaviors without an attempt to sort the population into 'high' and 'not high' risk groups. On the other hand, the risk factors of individuals who already have coronary heart disease would be treated aggressively with a case-management system of follow-up. The data that support this conclusion are presented in this paper.
- Evaluation strategies