Dyslipidemia is a well-established traditional risk factor for cardiovascular events in the general population, particularly those with preexisting cardiovascular disease (CVD). In this population, reductions in total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels are effective in reducing coronary artery events and mortality. Dyslipidemia is more common in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and is believed to contribute to the high prevalence of CVD in these patients. To date, the treatment of dyslipidemia in patients with CKD followed the guidelines recommended by the US National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) for the treatment of lipid abnormalities. These guidelines recommend that initiation of lipid-lowering therapy be based on LDL-C level and the projected 10-year risk for coronary artery disease (CAD). However, we now recognize that the relationship between serum cholesterol and CVD is more complex in patients with CKD, particularly those receiving maintenance hemodialysis. This has been demonstrated by the failure of three large randomized clinical trials to show a beneficial effect of lipid-lowering therapy in reducing mortality in dialysis patients despite significant reduction in LDL-C levels. These results have caused uncertainty among nephrologists about how best to manage dyslipidemia in their patients. In this review, the role of dyslipidemia as a risk factor for atherosclerosis in ESRD patients and the results of the 3 clinical trials and other studies, including their limitations will be discussed, and a schema for treating dyslipidemia in dialysis patients will be proposed.
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