Getting it Right: Heart Disease and LDL Cholesterol Levels

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There is clear evidence that high LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) levels and the risk of heart attacks and strokes are related. Drug therapies have been shown in trials to reduce death rates and are used to manage LDL-C levels. But what should those levels be?

RTI Health Solutions senior systematic reviewer, Sarah Mitchell, is lead author on a literature review concerning patients with hyperlipidaemia—commonly referred to as high cholesterol—and the management of their cholesterol levels. These patients typically do not report symptoms but do have an increased risk of heart disease. The study sought to identify LDL-C levels practitioners are currently aiming to achieve with drug treatment. Target levels for high-risk patients ranged from <70 – <120mg/dL. Most studies found that 61.8–93.8 % of high-risk patients did not achieve a <100 mg/dL target. The researchers assessed data regarding why those patients did not achieve the goal LDL-C levels.

Mitchell and colleagues, including RTI-HS researcher Manel Pladevall-Vila, indicated that the reasons patients are not achieving LDL-C target levels have not been consistently investigated or reported. Their study addresses how the management of high cholesterol remains unsatisfactory in routine clinical practice. Given that available treatments have shown a reduction in heart disease, the review highlights the importance of improving cholesterol management.

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