Effects of EPA on coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic patients with multiple risk factors: sub-analysis of primary prevention cases from the Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study (JELIS)

Atherosclerosis. 2008 Sep;200(1):135-40. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.06.003. Epub 2008 Jun 19.


Background: Japan EPA Lipid Intervention Study (JELIS) was a large-scale clinical trial examining the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on coronary artery disease (CAD) in hypercholesterolemic patients. Herein, we focused on risk factors other than low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) to investigate the effects of EPA on CAD among JELIS primary prevention cases.

Methods: Hypercholesterolemic patients on statin therapy but without evidence of CAD (n=14,981) were randomly assigned to an EPA group (n=7503) or a control group (n=7478). The relationships between incident CAD, the number of CAD risk factors (hypercholesterolemia; obesity; high triglyceride (TG) or low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C); diabetes; and hypertension) and EPA treatment were investigated.

Results: For the control and EPA groups combined, a higher number of risk factors was directly associated with an increased incidence of CAD. Incidence was lower for the EPA group than for the control group regardless of the numbers of risk factors. Compared to patients with normal serum TG and HDL-C levels, those with abnormal levels (TG >or=150 mg/dL; HDL-C <40 mg/dL) had significantly higher CAD hazard ratio (HR: 1.71; 95% CI: 1.11-2.64; P=0.014). In this higher risk group, EPA treatment suppressed the risk of CAD by 53% (HR: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.23-0.98; P=0.043).

Conclusions: Multiple risk factors besides cholesterol are associated with markedly increased incidence of CAD. High TG with low HDL-C represents a particularly potent risk factor. EPA was effective in reducing the incidence of CAD events for patients with this dyslipidemic pattern, suggesting that EPA may be especially beneficial in patients who with abnormal TG and HDL-C levels.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00231738.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / complications
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / drug therapy*
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00231738