Treat-to-Target or High-Intensity Statin in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA. 2023 Apr 4;329(13):1078-1087. doi: 10.1001/jama.2023.2487.


Importance: In patients with coronary artery disease, some guidelines recommend initial statin treatment with high-intensity statins to achieve at least a 50% reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). An alternative approach is to begin with moderate-intensity statins and titrate to a specific LDL-C goal. These alternatives have not been compared head-to-head in a clinical trial involving patients with known coronary artery disease.

Objective: To assess whether a treat-to-target strategy is noninferior to a strategy of high-intensity statins for long-term clinical outcomes in patients with coronary artery disease.

Design, setting, and participants: A randomized, multicenter, noninferiority trial in patients with a coronary disease diagnosis treated at 12 centers in South Korea (enrollment: September 9, 2016, through November 27, 2019; final follow-up: October 26, 2022).

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive either the LDL-C target strategy, with an LDL-C level between 50 and 70 mg/dL as the target, or high-intensity statin treatment, which consisted of rosuvastatin, 20 mg, or atorvastatin, 40 mg.

Main outcomes and measures: Primary end point was a 3-year composite of death, myocardial infarction, stroke, or coronary revascularization with a noninferiority margin of 3.0 percentage points.

Results: Among 4400 patients, 4341 patients (98.7%) completed the trial (mean [SD] age, 65.1 [9.9] years; 1228 females [27.9%]). In the treat-to-target group (n = 2200), which had 6449 person-years of follow-up, moderate-intensity and high-intensity dosing were used in 43% and 54%, respectively. The mean (SD) LDL-C level for 3 years was 69.1 (17.8) mg/dL in the treat-to-target group and 68.4 (20.1) mg/dL in the high-intensity statin group (n = 2200) (P = .21, compared with the treat-to-target group). The primary end point occurred in 177 patients (8.1%) in the treat-to-target group and 190 patients (8.7%) in the high-intensity statin group (absolute difference, -0.6 percentage points [upper boundary of the 1-sided 97.5% CI, 1.1 percentage points]; P < .001 for noninferiority).

Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with coronary artery disease, a treat-to-target LDL-C strategy of 50 to 70 mg/dL as the goal was noninferior to a high-intensity statin therapy for the 3-year composite of death, myocardial infarction, stroke, or coronary revascularization. These findings provide additional evidence supporting the suitability of a treat-to-target strategy that may allow a tailored approach with consideration for individual variability in drug response to statin therapy.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT02579499.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atorvastatin* / administration & dosage
  • Atorvastatin* / adverse effects
  • Atorvastatin* / therapeutic use
  • Cholesterol, LDL* / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / blood
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / complications
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors* / administration & dosage
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors* / adverse effects
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Hyperlipoproteinemias* / blood
  • Hyperlipoproteinemias* / complications
  • Hyperlipoproteinemias* / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Rosuvastatin Calcium* / administration & dosage
  • Rosuvastatin Calcium* / adverse effects
  • Rosuvastatin Calcium* / therapeutic use
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Rosuvastatin Calcium
  • Atorvastatin

Associated data