Background: While the role of hydroxymethyl glutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) in secondary prevention of cardiovascular (CV) events and mortality is established, their value for primary prevention is less clear. To clarify the role of statins for patients without CV disease, we performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Collaboration, and American College of Physicians Journal Club databases were searched for RCTs published between 1966 and June 2005. We included RCTs with follow-up of 1 year or longer, more than 100 major CV events, and 80% or more of the population without CV disease. From each trial, demographic data, lipid profile, CV outcomes, mortality, and adverse outcomes were recorded. Summary relative risk (RR) ratios with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random effects model.
Results: Seven trials with 42,848 patients were included. Ninety percent had no history of CV disease. Mean follow-up was 4.3 years. Statin therapy reduced the RR of major coronary events, major cerebrovascular events, and revascularizations by 29.2% (95% CI, 16.7%-39.8%) (P<.001), 14.4% (95% CI, 2.8%-24.6%) (P = .02), and 33.8% (95% CI, 19.6%-45.5%) (P<.001), respectively. Statins produced a nonsignificant 22.6% RR reduction in coronary heart disease mortality (95% CI, 0.56-1.08) (P = .13). No significant reduction in overall mortality (RR, 0.92 [95% CI, 0.84-1.01]) (P = .09) or increases in cancer or levels of liver enzymes or creatine kinase were observed.
Conclusion: In patients without CV disease, statin therapy decreases the incidence of major coronary and cerebrovascular events and revascularizations but not coronary heart disease or overall mortality.