BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests that statin therapy reduces the rate of cardiovascular events among patients with low lipid levels but elevated C-reactive protein levels. However, no cost-effectiveness analyses have been performed to assist in determining whether large-scale randomized trials are merited to test this hypothesis. METHODS: We used a Markov model to estimate the benefits, costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness of C-reactive protein screening followed by targeted statin therapy for elevated C-reactive protein levels, compared with dietary counseling alone, for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events among patients with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels <149 mg/dL. All costs were in 2000 U.S. dollars. RESULTS: The potential incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for screening followed by statin therapy compared with no screening and no statin therapy was $48,100 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) for 58-year-old men and $94,400 per QALY for 58-year-old women. Screening was most cost-effective for 65-year-old men ($42,600 per QALY) and least cost-effective for 35-year-old women ($207,300 per QALY). Our results were most sensitive to the baseline risk of coronary heart disease, the cost of statin therapy, and the efficacy of statin therapy for preventing myocardial infarction in patients with high C-reactive protein levels. If a 58-year-old man who smokes and is hypertensive was considered, screening for C-reactive protein followed by statin therapy would be cost saving if the cost of statin therapy was reduced to $500 per year. If the cost of statin therapy was reduced to $1 per day, the cost-effectiveness of screening would be $4900 per QALY for 58-year-old men and $19,600 per QALY for women of the same age. If the costs associated with elective revascularization (percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass surgery) were included in the base case analyses, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for screening would be $40,100 per QALY for 58-year-old men and $87,300 per QALY for women. CONCLUSION: A strategy involving C-reactive protein screening to target statin therapy for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease among middle-aged patients without overt hyperlipidemia could be relatively cost-effective and, in some cases, cost saving.
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- Cardiovascular disease
- Risk factor