Lipid-lowering for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in the new era: A practical approach to combination therapy

Lipid-lowering and combination therapy

Erin D. Michos
Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
Keith C. Ferdinand
Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA


Low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) is the main etiologic factor for the development and progression of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and LDL-C reduction is a central tenet of ASCVD treatment and prevention. Moreover, ASCVD risk reduction is proportional to the magnitude of LDL-C lowering. Recent European guidelines have recommended a goal of <55 mg/dL (<1.4 mmol/L) for patients at very-high cardiovascular risk, while the U.S. guideline considers an LDL-C ≥70 mg/dL (≤1.8 mmol/L) as a threshold to intensify therapy with the addition of a non-statin therapy to statins. To reach these lower LDL-C goals of <55 mg/dL or <70 mg/dL, combination therapy is necessary in the majority of these patients. Drug combinations, and in particular single-pill combinations, may substantially increase adherence to therapy. Adherence is essential for achieving a clinical benefit and, as many patients discontinue medications, the long-term adherence to lipid-lowering therapy represents a major issue in ASCVD prevention. Secondary prevention or high-risk primary prevention patients, such as those with familial hypercholesterolemia in whom maximally-tolerated statin doses alone would not be anticipated to sufficiently lower LDL-C, would benefit from combination therapy. In current clinical practice, statins with ezetimibe, statins plus PCSK9 inhibitors (with or without ezetimibe), and, most recently statins or ezetimibe with bempedoic acid are the most commonly used combination therapies for LDL-C-lowering. This review outlines the importance of using combination therapy for the achievement of LDL-C treatment


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