Indexed on: 01 Apr '06Published on: 01 Apr '06Published in: Current medical research and opinion
Lowering serum cholesterol levels reduces the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)-related events. Statins are commonly prescribed as first-line treatment but many patients at high-risk for CHD still fail to reach their cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) goals with statin monotherapy. National and international guidelines for the prevention of CHD recommend the modification of lipid profiles and particularly LDL-C [e.g. the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP ATP III; 2001) and Third Joint Task Force of European and other Societies on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice (2003) Guidelines]. Several recent clinical trials indicated an added benefit from aggressive lowering of LDL-C levels. Based on these findings, the NCEP ATP III revised the LDL-C target from < 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L) to < 70 mg/dL (1.8 mmol/L) (optional target) for very high-risk patients and < 130 mg/dL (3.4 mmol/L) to < 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L) for moderately high-risk patients. For patients who fail to achieve their LDL-C target, inhibiting the two main sources of cholesterol - synthesis and uptake - can produce more effective lipid lowering, allowing more patients to reach their LDL-C goal. Ezetimibe is a highly-selective inhibitor of cholesterol absorption and simvastatin is an evidence-based inhibitor of cholesterol synthesis. The LDL-C-lowering efficacy of targeting both major sources of cholesterol with ezetimibe plus simvastatin was demonstrated in several multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in patients with hypercholesterolaemia. For patients who do not reach their cholesterol goal with a statin, adding ezetimibe 10 mg significantly reduces LDL-C compared with statin monotherapy. Thus, this treatment option may help patients reach the new 'stricter' cholesterol goals. This review, based on a Medline database search from January 2000 to August 2005, considers the LDL-C-lowering efficacy of ezetimibe and discusses the role of this agent for patients who fail to achieve guideline cholesterol goals with statin monotherapy.