Managing dyslipidaemia is central to the management of cardiovascular disease. Most statins can reduce the 5-year incidence of major vascular events by 20%. In Europe, however, up to 53% of statin-treated patients fail to attain their low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) target and residual risk remains high, even when targets are reached. Reasons for this include under-treatment due to insufficient starting doses/failure to uptitrate; poor persistence with therapy due to adverse events (AEs) or drug-drug interactions (DDIs); and failure to treat non-LDL-C risk factors, such as high triglycerides (TGs) and low high-density lipoprotein-C (HDL-C). Phase III and IV studies demonstrate that pitavastatin 1-4 mg has a similar or greater lipid-lowering efficacy to atorvastatin 10-20 mg, simvastatin 20-40 mg and pravastatin 10-40 mg, and is well-tolerated with a low incidence of adverse events (AEs). The SmPC recommends a usual starting dose of 1 mg, with dose-escalation if required. However, since the lower doses (1-2 mg) bring the majority of people with hypercholesterolaemia or combined dyslipidaemia to LDL-C target, the need for pitavastatin uptitration and the risk of under-treatment is low. In addition to reducing LDL-C, pitavastatin has a sustained beneficial effect on other atherogenic lipids, including TGs and HDL-C. Recent studies reveal that pitavastatin reduces coronary atheroma plaque volume as efficiently as atorvastatin and can improve the composition of coronary plaques, effects that are likely to reduce the risk of CV endpoints in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Moreover, pitavastatin has a number of pleiotropic effects that can reduce inflammation and lipid oxidation, improve endothelial function, reduce the metabolic changes associated with adiposity, and improve glucose metabolism and renal function. Compared to other statins, pitavastatin has a unique metabolic profile that could reduce the risk of DDIs, thereby providing a clear benefit in patients receiving polypharmacy. Overall, pitavastatin is a well tolerated and effective treatment for patients with hypercholesterolaemia and combined dyslipidaemia, especially in those with low HDL-C, and it should help improve LDL-C-target attainment rates by reducing the risk of under-treatment, minimising AE rates, and reducing the risk of DDIs in people requiring polypharmacy. Future and ongoing studies will directly compare the effects of pitavastatin vs. other statins on hard clinical endpoints.
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