Additive benefits of pravastatin and aspirin to decrease risks of cardiovascular disease: randomized and observational comparisons of secondary prevention trials and their meta-analyses

Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jan 12;164(1):40-4. doi: 10.1001/archinte.164.1.40.


Background: In randomized trials of secondary prevention, pravastatin sodium and aspirin reduce risks of cardiovascular disease. Pravastatin has a predominantly delayed antiatherogenic effect, and aspirin has an immediate antiplatelet effect, raising the possibility of additive clinical benefits.

Methods: In 5 randomized trials of secondary prevention with pravastatin (40 mg/d), comprising 73 900 patient-years of observation, aspirin use was also prescribed in varying frequencies, and data were available on a large number of confounding variables. We tested whether pravastatin and aspirin have additive benefits in the 2 large trials (Long-term Intervention With Pravastatin in Ischaemic Disease trial and the Cholesterol and Recurrent Events trial) that were designed to test clinical benefits. We also performed meta-analyses of these 2 trials and 3 smaller angiographic trials that collected clinical end points. In all analyses, multivariate models were used to adjust for a large number of cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Results: Individual trials and all meta-analyses demonstrated similar additive benefits of pravastatin and aspirin on cardiovascular disease. In meta-analysis, the relative risk reductions for fatal or nonfatal myocardial infarction were 31% for pravastatin plus aspirin vs aspirin alone and 26% for pravastatin plus aspirin vs pravastatin alone. For ischemic stroke, the corresponding relative risk reductions were 29% and 31%. For the composite end point of coronary heart disease death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass graft, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, or ischemic stroke, the relative risk reductions were 24% and 13%. All relative risk reductions were statistically significant.

Conclusion: More widespread and appropriate combined use of statins and aspirin in secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease will avoid large numbers of premature deaths.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Pravastatin / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / prevention & control


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Pravastatin
  • Aspirin