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.