Background: Patients with elevated triglyceride levels are at increased risk for ischemic events. Icosapent ethyl, a highly purified eicosapentaenoic acid ethyl ester, lowers triglyceride levels, but data are needed to determine its effects on ischemic events.
Methods: We performed a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving patients with established cardiovascular disease or with diabetes and other risk factors, who had been receiving statin therapy and who had a fasting triglyceride level of 135 to 499 mg per deciliter (1.52 to 5.63 mmol per liter) and a low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of 41 to 100 mg per deciliter (1.06 to 2.59 mmol per liter). The patients were randomly assigned to receive 2 g of icosapent ethyl twice daily (total daily dose, 4 g) or placebo. The primary end point was a composite of cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, coronary revascularization, or unstable angina. The key secondary end point was a composite of cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke.
Results: A total of 8179 patients were enrolled (70.7% for secondary prevention of cardiovascular events) and were followed for a median of 4.9 years. A primary end-point event occurred in 17.2% of the patients in the icosapent ethyl group, as compared with 22.0% of the patients in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68 to 0.83; P<0.001); the corresponding rates of the key secondary end point were 11.2% and 14.8% (hazard ratio, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.65 to 0.83; P<0.001). The rates of additional ischemic end points, as assessed according to a prespecified hierarchical schema, were significantly lower in the icosapent ethyl group than in the placebo group, including the rate of cardiovascular death (4.3% vs. 5.2%; hazard ratio, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.66 to 0.98; P=0.03). A larger percentage of patients in the icosapent ethyl group than in the placebo group were hospitalized for atrial fibrillation or flutter (3.1% vs. 2.1%, P=0.004). Serious bleeding events occurred in 2.7% of the patients in the icosapent ethyl group and in 2.1% in the placebo group (P=0.06).
Conclusions: Among patients with elevated triglyceride levels despite the use of statins, the risk of ischemic events, including cardiovascular death, was significantly lower among those who received 2 g of icosapent ethyl twice daily than among those who received placebo. (Funded by Amarin Pharma; REDUCE-IT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01492361 .).