Abnormal lipids in high-risk patients achieving cholesterol targets: a cross-sectional study of routinely collected UK general practice data

Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Sep;24(9):2551-60. doi: 10.1185/03007990802321964. Epub 2008 Jul 31.


Background and objectives: Lipid management in UK general practice targets the achievement of total cholesterol (TC) targets in high-risk individuals. Statins alone have a modest effect on non-LDL-C components of the lipid profile, leaving these patients at significant residual cardiovascular (CV) risk. Improving risk further would require the addition of non-statin therapies. This analysis explores what proportion of the UK population with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and TC levels at or below target may still be at risk because of residual dyslipidaemia.

Methods: CV risk profiles were extracted from a research database of 602,222 patients from 98 UK general practices. Patients were categorised according to their prior CV history and use of statins. Mean values and proportions achieving treatment targets were assessed for TC, low density lipoprotein (LDL-C), high density lipoprotein (HDL-C) and triglycerides (TG).

Results: In all, 48 499 patients with pre-existing CVD or diabetes were identified. 73% of statin-treated patients and 63% of untreated patients had a TC < or =5 mmol/L. 28.6% of patients treated to a TC target had LDL-C>3 mmol/L. Amongst those with both TC and LDL-C treated to target, 22.5% had low HDL-C and 37.2% had high triglyceride (TG). Within this group, more women than men had abnormal HDL-C (25.4 vs. 20.7%; p<0.0001). Patients with diabetes were more likely than non-diabetics to have abnormalities of both HDL-C (28.9 vs. 16.4%; p<0.0001) and triglyceride (44.9 vs. 29.5%; p<0.0001) despite normal TC and LDL-C.

Conclusions: Around 60% of high-risk patients have residual dyslipidaemias despite achieving the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) TC target. New patterns of treatment are required in order to extend lipid management beyond simple total cholesterol lowering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipids / classification
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom


  • Lipids
  • Cholesterol