Combination therapy in cholesterol reduction: focus on ezetimibe and statins

Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(2):267-78. doi: 10.2147/vhrm.s1204.


Although widely used in lipid lowering therapy, HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (even when administered at high doses) are frequently insufficient to achieve guideline-recommended LDL-C goals for many patients with hypercholesterolemia in everyday clinical practice. Many patients do not achieve LDL-C goal on the initial dose of statin and the majority of these patients does not reach their goal after 6 months. As a consequence, a wide therapeutic gap exists between target LDL-C levels and those typically achieved in clinical practice. A recent and more effective therapeutic hypocholesterolemic strategy is to treat the two main sources of cholesterol simultaneously (production of cholesterol, mainly in the liver, and absorption of cholesterol in the intestine) with a complementary mechanism of action, by co-administering ezetimibe, a novel agent inhibiting cholesterol absorption, with a statin, which inhibits cholesterol production in the liver. Ezetimibe can be effectively and safely co-administered with any dose of any statin and, compared with the single inhibition of cholesterol production, afforded by statins alone, provides consistently greater reductions in LDL-C through dual inhibition of both cholesterol production and absorption. We summarize the pivotal role of both the liver and intestine in the overall balance of cholesterol in the body and describe the clinical impact and relevance of using ezetimibe either alone or co-administered with statins in controlling elevated levels of plasma LDL cholesterol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azetidines / pharmacology
  • Azetidines / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Ezetimibe
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy*
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Azetidines
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Cholesterol
  • Ezetimibe