Thursday, October 19, 2006

Basis for "Treat to goal" for cholesterol is questioned by Annals Internal Medicine review

A thought provoking-and in a way troubling review- in the October 3, 2006 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine ( "Lack of Evidence for recommended Low-density Lipoprotein treatment Target: A solvable Problem" by R.A. et al Haywood) was highlighted on October 17,2006 by DB's Medical Rants and by MEDPUNDIT. It questions the evidentiary basis of NCEP's 2004 "treat to goal" set of recommendations. Haywood's article is instructive because of the thoughtful analysis of the data linking cholesterol level and response to statin therapy and outcome and troublesome because it raises doubt about the validity of adherence to the NCEP recommendations of treating to goal. I 'll have to admit that I accepted those targets as a reasonable thing to do leading to at times increasing the statin dose and sometimes adding ezetimibe. In 2004, the NCEP expert panel recommended that physicians treat patients at what they designate at "very high risk" for coronary events to achieve a LDL cholesterol of less than 70 and for those patients judged to be at " high risk" a value of less than 100.

The review's major point is this:

High quality data is lacking to provide basis for the recommendation to titrate lipid lowering therapy to LDL targets or to prove that such therapy is superior to simply prescribing doses of statin drugs used in the clinical trials for patients at high and very high cardiovascular risk.

It should be noted that the authors are quick to point out that they are not saying that there is strong evidence against the current recommendations.

The reply from Dr.Scott Grundy and the NCEP folks likely will be interesting. (I assume they have to reply to this). As thoughtful as this article is you have to wonder how much of an impact it will have.The cardiologists and a number of primary care doctors seemed to have accepted the lower goals rather widely and that concept may be a hard one to get back into the barn. At this point I do not know if we should try to or not.

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