Although several clinical trials clearly demonstrate a decrease in mortality and morbidity rates for various patient populations with cardiovascular disease, this disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States. Based on various practice surveys and descriptive reports, clinicians apparently are not identifying patients at risk or not treating them to established goals set by national guidelines. Most evidence, including the updated National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines, support low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) as the principal target for intervention. The guidelines also emphasize that a low level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) alone or in association with hypertriglyceridemia increases the risk of cardiovascular disease; also, epidemiologic data taken as a whole signify that a 1% decrease in HDL levels is associated with a 2-3% increase in risk of coronary heart disease. Low HDL levels occur more frequently than once thought, especially in selected populations such as patients with type 2 diabetes and men. Therapeutic lifestyle changes should be implemented first for any lipid disorder. In patients for whom this approach is not adequate, LDL levels need to be lowered to goals based on risk assessment. In addition, low HDL levels and/or hypertriglyceridemia should be managed with a niacin or fibrate product. However, increases in HDL levels and reductions in triglyceride levels are modest with fibrates compared with the dose-related changes seen with niacin products. Reformulation of niacin into an extended-release form minimizes common adverse effects seen with crystalline or sustained-release niacin, and the beneficial effects on the lipid profile are maintained.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)