Background: Lipid-lowering therapy with statins reduces the risk of cardiovascular events, but the optimal level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is unclear.
Methods: We enrolled 4162 patients who had been hospitalized for an acute coronary syndrome within the preceding 10 days and compared 40 mg of pravastatin daily (standard therapy) with 80 mg of atorvastatin daily (intensive therapy). The primary end point was a composite of death from any cause, myocardial infarction, documented unstable angina requiring rehospitalization, revascularization (performed at least 30 days after randomization), and stroke. The study was designed to establish the noninferiority of pravastatin as compared with atorvastatin with respect to the time to an end-point event. Follow-up lasted 18 to 36 months (mean, 24).
Results: The median LDL cholesterol level achieved during treatment was 95 mg per deciliter (2.46 mmol per liter) in the standard-dose pravastatin group and 62 mg per deciliter (1.60 mmol per liter) in the high-dose atorvastatin group (P<0.001). Kaplan-Meier estimates of the rates of the primary end point at two years were 26.3 percent in the pravastatin group and 22.4 percent in the atorvastatin group, reflecting a 16 percent reduction in the hazard ratio in favor of atorvastatin (P=0.005; 95 percent confidence interval, 5 to 26 percent). The study did not meet the prespecified criterion for equivalence but did identify the superiority of the more intensive regimen.
Conclusions: Among patients who have recently had an acute coronary syndrome, an intensive lipid-lowering statin regimen provides greater protection against death or major cardiovascular events than does a standard regimen. These findings indicate that such patients benefit from early and continued lowering of LDL cholesterol to levels substantially below current target levels.
Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society