N Engl J Med 2014; 370:1422-1431 April 10, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1315665
The 2013 guidelines of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (ACC–AHA) for the treatment of cholesterol expand the indications for statin therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys of 2005 to 2010, we estimated the number, and summarized the risk-factor profile, of persons for whom statin therapy would be recommended (i.e., eligible persons) under the new ACC–AHA guidelines, as compared with the guidelines of the Third Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III) of the National Cholesterol Education Program, and extrapolated the results to a population of 115.4 million U.S. adults between the ages of 40 and 75 years.
As compared with the ATP-III guidelines, the new guidelines would increase the number of U.S. adults receiving or eligible for statin therapy from 43.2 million (37.5%) to 56.0 million (48.6%). Most of this increase in numbers (10.4 million of 12.8 million) would occur among adults without cardiovascular disease. Among adults between the ages of 60 and 75 years without cardiovascular disease who are not receiving statin therapy, the percentage who would be eligible for such therapy would increase from 30.4% to 87.4% among men and from 21.2% to 53.6% among women. This effect would be driven largely by an increased number of adults who would be classified solely on the basis of their 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event. Those who would be newly eligible for statin therapy include more men than women and persons with a higher blood pressure but a markedly lower level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. As compared with the ATP-III guidelines, the new guidelines would recommend statin therapy for more adults who would be expected to have future cardiovascular events (higher sensitivity) but would also include many adults who would not have future events (lower specificity).
The new ACC–AHA guidelines for the management of cholesterol would increase the number of adults who would be eligible for statin therapy by 12.8 million, with the increase seen mostly among older adults without cardiovascular disease. (Funded by the Duke Clinical Research Institute and others.)