Background: Although LDL lowering has been shown to reduce recurrent coronary events in patients with coronary heart disease, little direct information is available on the extent of LDL lowering required to achieve this outcome.
Methods and results: The Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE) trial compared pravastatin and placebo in patients who had experienced myocardial infarction (MI) who had average concentrations of total cholesterol <240 mg/dL (baseline mean, 209 mg/dL) and LDL cholesterol (LDL) 115 to 174 mg/dL (mean, 139 mg/dL). Pravastatin reduced coronary death or recurrent MI by 24%. In multivariate analysis, the LDL concentration achieved during follow-up was a significant, although nonlinear, predictor of the coronary event rate (P=.007), whereas the extent of LDL reduction was not significant, whether expressed as an absolute amount (P=.97) or a percentage (P=.76). The coronary event rate declined as LDL decreased during follow-up from 174 to approximately 125 mg/dL, but no further decline was seen in the LDL range from 125 to 71 mg/dL. In multivariate analysis, triglyceride but not HDL concentrations during follow-up were weakly but significantly associated with the coronary event rate.
Conclusions: The LDL concentrations achieved during treatment with pravastatin or placebo were associated with reduction in coronary events down to an LDL concentration of approximately 125 mg/dL. LDL concentrations <125 mg/dL during treatment were not associated with further benefit. Absolute or percentage reduction in LDL had little relationship to coronary events.