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1.  The Effect of Alternative Summary Statistics for Communicating Risk Reduction on Decisions about Taking Statins: A Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000134.
Carling and colleagues carry out a trial evaluating different methods of communicating information to people regarding the risks and benefits of taking statins. They suggest that natural frequencies are likely to be the most appropriate summary statistic for presenting the effects of treatment.
Background
While different ways of presenting treatment effects can affect health care decisions, little is known about which presentations best help people make decisions consistent with their own values. We compared six summary statistics for communicating coronary heart disease (CHD) risk reduction with statins: relative risk reduction and five absolute summary measures—absolute risk reduction, number needed to treat, event rates, tablets needed to take, and natural frequencies.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a randomized trial to determine which presentation resulted in choices most consistent with participants' values. We recruited adult volunteers who participated through an interactive Web site. Participants rated the relative importance of outcomes using visual analogue scales (VAS). We then randomized participants to one of the six summary statistics and asked them to choose whether to take statins based on this information. We calculated a relative importance score (RIS) by subtracting the VAS scores for the downsides of taking statins from the VAS score for CHD. We used logistic regression to determine the association between participants' RIS and their choice. 2,978 participants completed the study. Relative risk reduction resulted in a 21% higher probability of choosing to take statins over all values of RIS compared to the absolute summary statistics. This corresponds to a number needed to treat (NNT) of 5; i.e., for every five participants shown the relative risk reduction one additional participant chose to take statins, compared to the other summary statistics. There were no significant differences among the absolute summary statistics in the association between RIS and participants' decisions whether to take statins. Natural frequencies were best understood (86% reported they understood them well or very well), and participants were most satisfied with this information.
Conclusions
Presenting the benefits of taking statins as a relative risk reduction increases the likelihood of people accepting treatment compared to presenting absolute summary statistics, independent of the relative importance they attach to the consequences. Natural frequencies may be the most suitable summary statistic for presenting treatment effects, based on self-reported preference, understanding of and satisfaction with the information, and confidence in the decision.
Clinical Trials Registration
ISRCTN85194921
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People often have to make decisions about their health care. Ideally, all the health care decisions that a person makes should be those best suited to his or her personal circumstances and expectations. Take, for example, someone with a high amount of cholesterol (a type of fat) in his or her blood. Because this condition increases the chances of developing potentially fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), such a person will often be advised by his or her doctor to take statins to reduce blood cholesterol levels. However, the person needs to consider both the benefits and downsides of this course of action. Can he or she afford to pay for statins, if their health care system requires him or her to? Does the person want to take a pill every day that might cause some side effects? That is, the person has to consider his or her “values”—the relative desirability of all the possible outcomes of taking statins—before deciding whether to follow his or her doctor's advice.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is well known that how information is presented to patients about treatment options and their consequences affects the choices that they make. For example, patients who are told that a drug will halve their chances of developing a disease (a 50% relative risk reduction) are more likely to decide to take that drug than those who are told it will reduce their absolute (actual) risk of developing the disease from 4% to 2%. Less is known, however, about which presentations of treatment effects best help people to make decisions that are consistent with their own values. In 2002, therefore, a series of internet-based randomized trials (studies in which participants are randomly allocated to different “treatment” groups) called the Health Information Project: Presentation Online (HIPPO) was initiated. Here, the researchers describe HIPPO 2, a trial that investigates how alternative summary statistics for communicating the reduction of CHD risk with statins affect people's decisions to take statins.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Nearly 3,000 adults in Norway and North America rated the relative importance to them of CHD risk reduction, the cost of statins, and the need to take a daily pill through an interactive Web site. The researchers used these data to calculate a “relative importance score” (RIS), an indicator of each participant's values. Each participant then decided whether or not to take statins after being shown one of six summary statistics about the effect of statins on CHD risk (relative risk reduction and five indicators of absolute risk reduction). The presentation of the effect of statins as a relative risk reduction resulted in more people deciding to take statins over the whole RIS range than any of the absolute summary statistics. For every five participants shown the relative risk reduction statistic, an extra participant chose to take statins compared to the other summary statistics. When asked to compare the six summary statistics, the statistic that most people preferred and understood best was the “natural frequency,” an absolute summary statistic that gave the number of people likely to develop CHD with and without statin treatment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although these findings may not be generalizable to other populations or to other medical decisions, they provide new insights into how the presentation of information can affect the choices people make about health care. Specifically, these findings indicate that the presentation of the reduced risk of getting CHD as a result of taking stains as a relative amount is more likely to persuade people to take statins than several absolute summary statistics. They also suggest that the persuasive effect of the relative risk reduction summary statistic is not affected by the relative importance attached to the consequences of taking statins by individuals. That is, people shown the relative risk reduction statistic may be more likely to start statins to reduce their CHD risk (or a drug that reduces the risk of developing another disease) whatever their personal values than people shown absolute summary statistics. Finally, the findings on participant preferences suggest that natural frequencies may be the best summary statistic to include in tools designed to help people make decisions about their healthcare.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000134.
A PLoS Medicine Editorial discusses this trial and the results of another HIPPO trial that are presented in a separate PLoS Medicine Research Article by Carling and colleagues; details of a pilot HIPPO trial are also available
The Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (a US-based non-profit organization) provides information on many aspects of medical decision making
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center provides information to help people make health care decisions through its Center for Shared Decision Making
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute provides also information on patient decision aids, including an inventory of decision aids available on the Web (in English and French)
MedlinePlus provides links to information and advice about statins and about coronary heart disease (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000134
PMCID: PMC2724738  PMID: 19707575
2.  Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease 
Background
Reducing high blood cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in people with and without a past history of coronary heart disease (CHD) is an important goal of pharmacotherapy. Statins are the first-choice agents. Previous reviews of the effects of statins have highlighted their benefits in people with coronary artery disease. The case for primary prevention, however, is less clear.
Objectives
To assess the effects, both harms and benefits, of statins in people with no history of CVD.
Search methods
To avoid duplication of effort, we checked reference lists of previous systematic reviews. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Issue 1, 2007), MEDLINE (2001 to March 2007) and EMBASE (2003 to March 2007). There were no language restrictions.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials of statins with minimum duration of one year and follow-up of six months, in adults with no restrictions on their total low density lipoprotein (LDL) or high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, and where 10% or less had a history of CVD, were included.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently selected studies for inclusion and extracted data. Outcomes included all cause mortality, fatal and non-fatal CHD, CVD and stroke events, combined endpoints (fatal and non-fatal CHD, CVD and stroke events), change in blood total cholesterol concentration, revascularisation, adverse events, quality of life and costs. Relative risk (RR) was calculated for dichotomous data, and for continuous data pooled weighted mean differences (with 95% confidence intervals) were calculated.
Main results
Fourteen randomised control trials (16 trial arms; 34,272 participants) were included. Eleven trials recruited patients with specific conditions (raised lipids, diabetes, hypertension, microalbuminuria). All-cause mortality was reduced by statins (RR 0.84, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.96) as was combined fatal and non-fatal CVD endpoints (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.61 to 0.79). Benefits were also seen in the reduction of revascularisation rates (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.83). Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were reduced in all trials but there was evidence of heterogeneity of effects. There was no clear evidence of any significant harm caused by statin prescription or of effects on patient quality of life.
Authors’ conclusions
Reductions in all-cause mortality, major vascular events and revascularisations were found with no excess of cancers or muscle pain among people without evidence of cardiovascular disease treated with statins. Other potential adverse events were not reported and some trials included people with cardiovascular disease. Only limited evidence showed that primary prevention with statins may be cost effective and improve patient quality of life. Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004816.pub4
PMCID: PMC4164175  PMID: 21249663
Cardiovascular Diseases [blood; *prevention & control]; Cause of Death; Cholesterol, HDL [blood]; Cholesterol, LDL [blood]; Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors [adverse effects; *therapeutic use]; Primary Prevention; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Adult; Humans
3.  Prognostic value, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of high sensitivity C-reactive protein as a marker in primary prevention of major cardiac events 
Background
In a substantial portion of patients (= 25%) with coronary heart disease (CHD), a myocardial infarction or sudden cardiac death without prior symptoms is the first manifestation of disease. The use of new risk predictors for CHD such as the high-sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP) in addition to established risk factors could improve prediction of CHD. As a consequence of the altered risk assessment, modified preventive actions could reduce the number of cardiac death and non-fatal myocardial infarction.
Research question
Does the additional information gained through the measurement of hs-CRP in asymptomatic patients lead to a clinically relevant improvement in risk prediction as compared to risk prediction based on traditional risk factors and is this cost-effective?
Methods
A literature search of the electronic databases of the German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) was conducted. Selection, data extraction, assessment of the study-quality and synthesis of information was conducted according to the methods of evidence-based medicine.
Results
Eight publications about predictive value, one publication on the clinical efficacy and three health-economic evaluations were included. In the seven study populations of the prediction studies, elevated CRP-levels were almost always associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events and non-fatal myocardial infarctions or cardiac death and severe cardiovascular events. The effect estimates (odds ratio (OR), relative risk (RR), hazard ratio (HR)), once adjusted for traditional risk factors, demonstrated a moderate, independent association between hs-CRP and cardiac and cardiovascular events that fell in the range of 0.7 to 2.47. In six of the seven studies, a moderate increase in the area under the curve (AUC) could be detected by adding hs-CRP as a predictor to regression models in addition to established risk factors though in three cases this was not statistically significant. The difference [in the AUC] between the models with and without hs-CRP fell between 0.00 and 0.023 with a median of 0.003. A decision-analytic modeling study reported a gain in life-expectancy for those using statin therapy for populations with elevated hs-CRP levels and normal lipid levels as compared to statin therapy for those with elevated lipid levels (approximately 6.6 months gain in life-expectancy for 58 year olds). Two decision-analytic models (three publications) on cost-effectiveness reported incremental cost-effectiveness ratios between Euro 8,700 and 50,000 per life year gained for the German context and between 52,000 and 708,000 for the US context. The empirical input data for the model is highly uncertain.
Conclusion
No sufficient evidence is available to support the notion that hs-CRP-values should be measured during the global risk assessment for CAD or cardiovascular disease in addition to the traditional risk factors. The additional measurement of the hs-CRP-level increases the incremental predictive value of the risk prediction. It has not yet been clarified whether this increase is clinically relevant resulting in reduction of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
For people with medium cardiovascular risk (5 to 20% in ten years) additional measurement of hs-CRP seems most likely to be clinical relevant to support the decision as to whether or not additional statin therapy should be initiated for primary prevention.
Statin therapy can reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular events for asymptomatic individuals with normal lipid and elevated hs-CRP levels. However, this is not enough to provide evidence for a clinical benefit of hs-CRP-screening. The cost-effectiveness of general hs-CRP-screening as well as screening among only those with normal lipid levels remains unknown at present.
doi:10.3205/hta000068
PMCID: PMC3011282  PMID: 21289893
4.  Personalized Prediction of Lifetime Benefits with Statin Therapy for Asymptomatic Individuals: A Modeling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(12):e1001361.
In a modeling study conducted by Myriam Hunink and colleagues, a population-based cohort from Rotterdam is used to predict the possible lifetime benefits of statin therapy, on a personalized basis.
Background
Physicians need to inform asymptomatic individuals about personalized outcomes of statin therapy for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, current prediction models focus on short-term outcomes and ignore the competing risk of death due to other causes. We aimed to predict the potential lifetime benefits with statin therapy, taking into account competing risks.
Methods and Findings
A microsimulation model based on 5-y follow-up data from the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort of individuals aged 55 y and older living in the Ommoord district of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was used to estimate lifetime outcomes with and without statin therapy. The model was validated in-sample using 10-y follow-up data. We used baseline variables and model output to construct (1) a web-based calculator for gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy and (2) color charts for comparing these gains to the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) charts. In 2,428 participants (mean age 67.7 y, 35.5% men), statin therapy increased total life expectancy by 0.3 y (SD 0.2) and CVD-free life expectancy by 0.7 y (SD 0.4). Age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, hypertension, lipids, diabetes, glucose, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and creatinine were included in the calculator. Gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy increased with blood pressure, unfavorable lipid levels, and body mass index after multivariable adjustment. Gains decreased considerably with advancing age, while SCORE 10-y CVD mortality risk increased with age. Twenty-five percent of participants with a low SCORE risk achieved equal or larger gains in CVD-free life expectancy than the median gain in participants with a high SCORE risk.
Conclusions
We developed tools to predict personalized increases in total and CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy. The predicted gains we found are small. If the underlying model is validated in an independent cohort, the tools may be useful in discussing with patients their individual outcomes with statin therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects the heart and/or the blood vessels and is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Established risk factors for CVD include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood levels of a fat called low-density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”). Because many of these risk factors can be modified by lifestyle changes and by drugs, CVD can be prevented. Thus, physicians can assess a healthy individual's risk of developing CVD using a CVD prediction model (equations that take into account the CVD risk factors to which the individual is exposed) and can then recommend lifestyle changes and medications to reduce that individual's CVD risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
Current guidelines recommend that asymptomatic (healthy) individuals whose likely CVD risk is high should be encouraged to take statins—cholesterol-lowering drugs—as a preventative measure. Statins help to prevent CVD in healthy people with a high predicted risk of CVD, but, like all medicines, they have some unwanted side effects, so it is important that physicians can communicate both the benefits and drawbacks of statins to their patients in a way that allows them to make an informed decision about taking these drugs. Telling a patient that statins will reduce his or her short-term risk of CVD is not always helpful—patients really need to know the potential lifetime benefits of statin therapy. That is, they need to know how much longer they might live if they take statins. Here, the researchers use a mathematical model to predict the personalized lifetime benefits (increased total and CVD-free life expectancy) of statin therapy for individuals without a history of CVD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the Rotterdam Ischemic Heart Disease & Stroke Computer Simulation (RISC) model, which simulates the life courses of individuals through six health states, from well through to CVD or non-CVD death, to estimate lifetime outcomes with and without statin therapy in a population of healthy elderly individuals. They then used these outcomes and information on baseline risk factors to develop a web-based calculator suitable for personalized prediction of the lifetime benefits of statins in routine clinical practice. The model estimated that statin therapy increases average life expectancy in the study population by 0.3 years and average CVD-free life expectancy by 0.7 years. The gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy associated with statin therapy increased with blood pressure, unfavorable cholesterol levels, and body mass index (an indicator of body fat) but decreased with age. Notably, the web-based calculator predicted that some individuals with a low ten-year CVD risk might achieve a similar or larger gain in CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy than some individuals with a high ten-year risk. So, for example, both a 55-year-old non-smoking woman with a ten-year CVD mortality risk of 2% (a two in a hundred chance of dying of CVD within ten years) and a 65-year-old male smoker with a ten-year CVD mortality risk of 15% might both gain one year of CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that statin therapy can lead on average to small gains in total life expectancy and slightly larger gains in CVD-free life expectancy among healthy individuals, and show that life expectancy benefits can be predicted using an individual's risk factor profile. The accuracy and generalizability of these findings is limited by the assumptions included in the model (in particular, the model did not allow for the known side effects of statin therapy) and by the data fed into it—importantly, the risk prediction model needs to be validated using an independent dataset. If future research confirms the findings of this study, the researchers' web-based calculator could provide complementary information to the currently recommended ten-year CVD mortality risk assessment. Whether communication of personalized outcomes will ultimately result in better clinical outcomes remains to be seen, however, because patients may be less likely to choose statin therapy when provided with more information about its likely benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001361.
The web-based calculator for personalized prediction of lifetime benefits with statin therapy is available (after agreement to software license)
The American Heart Association provides information about many types of cardiovascular disease for patients, carers, and professionals, including information about drug therapy for cholesterol and a heart attack risk calculator
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and about statins
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on heart disease and keeping the heart healthy; information is also available on statins, including personal stories about deciding to take statins
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on a wide range of cardiovascular diseases
The European Society of Cardiology's cardiovascular disease risk assessment model (SCORE) is available
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on heart diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, and statins (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001361
PMCID: PMC3531501  PMID: 23300388
5.  Cost-Effectiveness of Statins for Primary Cardiovascular Prevention in Chronic Kidney Disease 
Objectives
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of statins for primary prevention of myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Background
Patients with CKD have an elevated risk of MI and stroke. Although HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors (“statins”) may prevent cardiovascular events in patients with non-dialysis-requiring CKD, adverse drug effects and competing risks could materially influence net effects and clinical decision-making.
Methods
We developed a decision-analytic model of CKD and cardiovascular disease (CVD) to determine the cost-effectiveness of low-cost generic statins for primary CVD prevention in men and women with hypertension and mild-to-moderate CKD. Outcomes included MI and stroke rates, discounted quality adjusted life years (QALYs) and lifetime costs (2010 USD), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios.
Results
For 65 year-old men with moderate hypertension and mild-to-moderate CKD, statins reduced the combined rate of MI and stroke, yielded 0.10 QALYs, and increased costs by $1,800 ($18,000 per QALY gained). For patients with lower baseline cardiovascular risks, health and economic benefits were smaller; for 65 year-old women, statins yielded 0.06 QALYs and increased costs by $1,900 ($33,400 per QALY gained). Results were sensitive to rates of rhabdomyolysis and drug costs. Statins are less cost-effective when obtained at average retail prices, particularly in patients at lower CVD risk.
Conclusions
While statins reduce absolute CVD risk in patients with CKD, increased risk of rhabdomyolysis, and competing risks associated with progressive CKD, partly offset these gains. Low-cost generic statins appear cost-effective for primary prevention of CVD in patients with mild-to-moderate CKD and hypertension.
doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2012.12.034
PMCID: PMC3688058  PMID: 23500327
chronic kidney disease; statins; cardiovascular disease; cost-effectiveness; guidelines
6.  Effect of Statins on Venous Thromboembolic Events: A Meta-analysis of Published and Unpublished Evidence from Randomised Controlled Trials 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001310.
A systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by Kazem Rahimi and colleagues re-evaluates the hypothesis, generated in previous studies, that statins may reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events. Their meta-analysis does not support the previous findings.
Background
It has been suggested that statins substantially reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events. We sought to test this hypothesis by performing a meta-analysis of both published and unpublished results from randomised trials of statins.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane CENTRAL up to March 2012 for randomised controlled trials comparing statin with no statin, or comparing high dose versus standard dose statin, with 100 or more randomised participants and at least 6 months' follow-up. Investigators were contacted for unpublished information about venous thromboembolic events during follow-up. Twenty-two trials of statin versus control (105,759 participants) and seven trials of an intensive versus a standard dose statin regimen (40,594 participants) were included. In trials of statin versus control, allocation to statin therapy did not significantly reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events (465 [0.9%] statin versus 521 [1.0%] control, odds ratio [OR] = 0.89, 95% CI 0.78–1.01, p = 0.08) with no evidence of heterogeneity between effects on deep vein thrombosis (266 versus 311, OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.72–1.01) and effects on pulmonary embolism (205 versus 222, OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.76–1.12). Exclusion of the trial result that provided the motivation for our meta-analysis (JUPITER) had little impact on the findings for venous thromboembolic events (431 [0.9%] versus 461 [1.0%], OR = 0.93 [95% CI 0.82–1.07], p = 0.32 among the other 21 trials). There was no evidence that higher dose statin therapy reduced the risk of venous thromboembolic events compared with standard dose statin therapy (198 [1.0%] versus 202 [1.0%], OR = 0.98, 95% CI 0.80–1.20, p = 0.87). Risk of bias overall was small but a certain degree of effect underestimation due to random error cannot be ruled out.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Conclusions
The findings from this meta-analysis do not support the previous suggestion of a large protective effect of statins (or higher dose statins) on venous thromboembolic events. However, a more moderate reduction in risk up to about one-fifth cannot be ruled out.
Editors' Summary
Background
Blood normally flows smoothly throughout the human body, supplying its organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But, when an injury occurs, proteins called clotting factors make the blood gel (coagulate) at the injury site. The resultant blood clot (thrombus) plugs the wound and prevents blood loss. Occasionally, however, a thrombus forms inside an uninjured blood vessel and partly or completely blocks the blood flow. A clot inside one of the veins (vessels that take blood towards the heart) deep within the body is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Symptoms of DVT (which usually occurs in the leg) include pain, swelling, and redness in the affected limb. DVT is treated with heparin and warfarin, two anticoagulant drugs that stop the blood clot growing. If left untreated, part of the clot (an embolus) can break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE), a life-threatening condition characterized by chest pain, breathlessness, coughing, and dizziness. Little is known about how to prevent DVTs and PEs but risk factors for these venous thromboembolic events include having an inherited blood clotting disorder, oral contraceptive use, having surgery, and prolonged inactivity (on long-haul plane flights, for example).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2009, a secondary (add-on) analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT, a study that randomly assigns individuals to receive different treatments and compares the outcomes associated with each treatment) called the JUPITER trial reported that rosuvastatin—a cholesterol-lowering drug (statin)—halved the risk of venous thromboembolic events among apparently healthy adults. The JUPITER trial was initiated to test whether statins reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases (conditions that involve the heart and the blood vessels) among adults with raised levels of a predictor for these diseases called C-reactive protein; statins reduce the levels of this protein as well as those of cholesterol. Because fewer than 100 of the participants in the JUPITER trial developed a DVT or PE, the reduction in the risk of a venous thromboembolic event among the participants who took rosuvastatin could have happened by chance. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 29 RCTs of statins that collected information on many more venous thromboembolic events, the researchers test the hypothesis that statins substantially reduce the risk of such events. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 22 RCTs (105,759 participants) that compared the effects of statins with control (dummy) tablets and seven (40,594 participants) that compared an intensive statin regimen with a standard regimen. They then obtained largely unpublished information about the venous thromboembolic events that occurred during these trials (about 1,000 DVTs and PEs) from the original investigators. In the trials of statin versus control, allocation to statin therapy did not significantly reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events. Thus, although events occurred in 465 participants who were given statins (0.9% of the participants) and in 521 participants who were given control tablets (1% of the participants), this difference in outcomes was not statistically significant—it could have happened by chance. Exclusion of the JUPITER trial results from the meta-analysis did not alter this finding. The researchers also found no evidence that intensive statin therapy reduced the risk of venous thromboembolic events compared to standard therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this meta-analysis do not support the suggestion that statins, either at the standard dose or at higher doses, reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events substantially among healthy adults. It is possible that the effect of statins has been underestimated in this meta-analysis because of missing data or because of some other source of bias. Furthermore, because the total number of events in this meta-analysis is still relatively modest, these findings do not rule out the possibility that statins may reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events by up to about one-fifth in some or all individuals. Additional large RCTs are now needed to investigate whether statin treatment does in fact reduce the risk of venous thromboembolic events in adults and, if it does, whether all statins have a similar effect and whether statin treatment is beneficial in everyone or only in specific subgroups of people.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001310.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Frits Rosendaal
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on deep vein thrombosis (including an animation about how DVT causes pulmonary embolisms), and information on pulmonary embolism
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information on deep vein thrombosis, including personal stories, on pulmonary embolism, and on statins; a Behind the Headlines article describes the JUPITER trial and its implications
The non-profit organization US National Blood Clot Alliance provides detailed information about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism for patients and professionals and includes a selection of personal stories about these conditions
MedlinePlus has links to further information about deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and statins (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001310
PMCID: PMC3445446  PMID: 23028261
7.  Using Stress Testing to Guide Primary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease among Intermediate-Risk Patients: A Cost-effectiveness Analysis 
Circulation  2011;125(2):260-270.
Background
Non-invasive stress testing might guide the use of aspirin and statins for primary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD), but it is unclear if such a strategy would be cost-effective.
Methods and Results
We compared the status quo, in which the current national use of aspirin and statins was simulated, with three other strategies; 1) full implementation of Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III) guidelines, 2) a “treat-all” strategy in which all intermediate-risk persons received statins (men and women) and aspirin (men only) and 3) a “test and treat strategy,” in which all persons with an intermediate-risk of CHD underwent stress testing and those with a positive test were treated with high-intensity statins (men and women) and aspirin (men only). Healthcare costs, CHD events, and quality-adjusted life years from 2011 to 2040 were projected. Under a variety of assumptions, the “treat-all” strategy was the most effective and least expensive strategy. Stress electrocardiography was more effective and less expensive than other “test-and-treat” strategies, but it was less expensive than “treat all” only if statin cost exceeded $3.16/pill or if testing increased adherence from below 22% to above 75%. However, stress electrocardiography could be cost-effective in persons initially non-adherent to the “treat all” strategy if it raised their adherence to 5% and cost-saving if it raised their adherence to 13%.
Conclusions
When generic high-potency statins are available, non-invasive cardiac stress testing to target preventive medications is not cost-effective unless it substantially improves adherence.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.041293
PMCID: PMC3265963  PMID: 22144567
cost effectiveness; prevention; stress testing; risk factors; lipids
8.  Primary prevention of CVD: treating dyslipidaemia 
Clinical Evidence  2010;2010:0215.
Introduction
The incidence of dyslipidaemia is high: in 2000, approximately 25% of adults in the USA had total cholesterol greater than 6.2 mmol/L or were taking lipid-lowering medication. Primary prevention in this context is defined as long-term management of people at increased risk but with no clinically overt evidence of CVD — such as acute MI, angina, stroke, and PVD — and who have not undergone revascularisation.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of pharmacological cholesterol-lowering interventions in people at low risk (less than 0.6% annual CHD risk); at medium risk (0.6–1.4% annual CHD risk); and at high risk (at least 1.5% annual CHD risk)? What are the effects of reduced or modified fat diet? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to December 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 16 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: ezetimibe, fibrates, niacin (nicotinic acid), reduced- or modified-fat diet, resins, and statins.
Key Points
Dyslipidaemia, defined as elevated total or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, is an important risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. The incidence of dyslipidaemia is high: in 2000, approximately 25% of adults in the US had total cholesterol greater than 6.2 mmol/L, or were taking lipid-lowering medication.There is a continuous, graded relationship between the total plasma cholesterol concentration and ischaemic heart disease (IHD) morbidity and mortality. IHD is the leading single cause of death in high-income countries and the second in low- and middle-income countries.Primary prevention in this context is defined as long-term management of people at increased risk, but with no clinically overt evidence of CVD, such as MI, angina, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease, and who have not undergone revascularisation.
Statins have been shown to be highly effective, particularly in treating people at high risk of CHD (at least 1.5% annual risk of CHD). Although effective in people in all risk categories (low risk, medium risk), it seems that the magnitude of benefit is related to the individual's baseline risk of CHD events.
In people at medium risk of CHD (0.6–1.4% annual risk of CHD), fibrates have been shown to reduce the rate of CHD, but not of overall mortality, compared with placebo. We don't know whether resins are beneficial in reducing non-fatal MI and CHD death in people at medium risk of CHD. We found no evidence relating to the effects of niacin (nicotinic acid) in people at medium risk of CHD.We found no evidence that examined the efficacy of niacin, fibrates, or resins in people either at low or high risk of CHD. We found no evidence on the effects of ezetimibe in people at low, medium, or high risk of CHD events.
A reduced- or modified-fat diet may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular events in people at risk of CHD events.
PMCID: PMC3217758  PMID: 21418693
9.  The polypill in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: cost-effectiveness in the Dutch population 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000363.
Objectives
The aim of the present study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness of the polypill in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Design
A health economic modelling study.
Setting
Primary healthcare in the Netherlands.
Participants
Simulated individuals from the general Dutch population, aged 45–75 years.
Interventions
Opportunistic screening followed by prescription of the polypill to eligible individuals. Eligibility was defined as having a minimum 10-year risk of cardiovascular death as assessed with the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation function of alternatively 5%, 7.5% or 10%. Different versions of the polypill were considered, depending on composition: (1) the Indian polycap, with three different types of blood pressure-lowering drugs, a statin and aspirin; (2) as (1) but without aspirin and (3) as (2) but with a double statin dose. In addition, a scenario of (targeted) separate antihypertensive and/or statin medication was simulated.
Primary outcome measures
Cases of acute myocardial infarction or stroke prevented, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained and the costs per QALY gained. All interventions were compared with usual care.
Results
All scenarios were cost-effective with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio between €7900 and 12 300 per QALY compared with usual care. Most health gains were achieved with the polypill without aspirin and containing a double dose of statins. With a 10-year risk of 7.5% as the threshold, this pill would prevent approximately 3.5% of all cardiovascular events.
Conclusions
Opportunistic screening based on global cardiovascular risk assessment followed by polypill prescription to those with increased risk offers a cost-effective strategy. Most health gain is achieved by the polypill without aspirin and a double statin dose.
Article summary
Article focus
Cardiovascular diseases continue to be still a major, partly preventable, cause of illness and death.
A polypill that lowers by targeting several risk factors simultaneously is in line with the concept that the aim in primary prevention should be to bring down ‘global’ cardiovascular risk.
The aim of this study was to estimate the potential cost-effectiveness of polypill prescription after opportunistic screening.
Key messages
The results of this study suggest that opportunistic screening and offering a polypill to people with a minimum 10-year risk of cardiovascular mortality of alternatively 5%, 7.5% or 10% is a cost-effective strategy.
A polypill without aspirin but with a double dose of simvastatin leads to most health gains at all risk thresholds considered. At a 10-year risk of cardiovascular death of ≥7.5%, such a strategy would lead to an estimated decrease in the incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke of about 3.5%, at a cost of €8900 per quality-adjusted life year.
Opportunistic screening of the population of ≥40 years to select individuals with a mild to moderately increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, followed by polypill prescription would prevent approximately 3.5% of all cardiovascular events.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strong point of the study is that different compositions of the polypill have been modelled. Also, realistic estimates for adherence and compliance have been used.
As only preliminary results of a phase II clinical trial on efficacy of the polypill were available, we had to apply mathematical modelling to estimate cost-effectiveness. This provides insight into the range of health benefits that can be expected. Pending results with regard to established clinical endpoints from large-scale phase III trials, the results of this study should not be taken as a precise estimate of the cost-effectiveness of the polypill.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000363
PMCID: PMC3278482  PMID: 22189351
10.  Population implications of lipid lowering for prevention of coronary heart disease: data from the 1995 Scottish health survey 
Heart  2001;86(3):289-295.
OBJECTIVE—To determine the proportion of the population, firstly, with cholesterol ⩾ 5.0 mmol/l and, secondly, with any cholesterol concentration, who might benefit from statin treatment for the following: secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD); primary prevention at CHD risk 30%, 20%, 15%, and 6% over 10 years; and primary prevention at projected CHD risk 20% over 10 years (CHD risk at age 60 years if actual age < 60 years).
SUBJECTS—Random stratified sample of 3963 subjects aged 35-64 years from the Scottish health survey 1995.
RESULTS—For secondary prevention 7.8% (95% confidence interval (CI) 6.9% to 8.6%) of the population with cholesterol ⩾ 5.0 mmol/l would benefit from statins. For primary prevention, the prevalence of people at CHD risk 30%, 20%, 15%, and 6% over 10 years is 1.5% (95% CI 1.2% to 1.9%), 5.4% (95% CI 4.7% to 6.1%), 9.7% (95% CI 8.8% to 10.6%), and 32.9% (95% CI 31.5% to 34.4%), respectively. At projected CHD risk 20% over 10 years, 12.4% (95% CI 11.4% to 13.5%) would be treated with statins. Removing the 5.0 mmol/l cholesterol threshold makes little difference to population prevalence at high CHD risk.
CONCLUSIONS—Statin treatment would be required for 7.8% of the population for secondary prevention. For primary prevention, among other factors, guidelines should take into account the number of patients needing treatment at different levels of CHD risk when choosing the CHD risk to target. The analysis supports a policy of targeting treatment at CHD risk 30% over 10 years as a minimum, as recommended in current British guidelines, with a move to treating at CHD risk 15% over 10 years as resources permit.


Keywords: statins; coronary risk; secondary prevention; primary prevention
doi:10.1136/heart.86.3.289
PMCID: PMC1729888  PMID: 11514481
11.  Cost-Effectiveness of Optimal Use of Acute Myocardial Infarction Treatments and Impact on Coronary Heart Disease Mortality in China 
Background
The cost-effectiveness of the optimal use of hospital-based acute myocardial infarction (AMI) treatments and their potential impact on coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in China is not well known.
Methods and Results
The effectiveness and costs of optimal use of hospital-based AMI treatments were estimated by the CHD Policy Model-China, a Markov-style computer simulation model. Changes in simulated AMI, CHD mortality, quality-adjusted life years, and total healthcare costs were the outcomes. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was used to assess projected cost-effectiveness. Optimal use of 4 oral drugs (aspirin, β-blockers, statins, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) in all eligible patients with AMI or unfractionated heparin in non–ST-segment–elevation myocardial infarction was a highly cost-effective strategy (incremental cost-effectiveness ratios approximately US $3100 or less). Optimal use of reperfusion therapies in eligible patients with ST-segment–elevation myocardial infarction was moderately cost effective (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio ≤$10 700). Optimal use of clopidogrel for all eligible patients with AMI or primary percutaneous coronary intervention among high-risk patients with non–ST-segment– elevation myocardial infarction in tertiary hospitals alone was less cost effective. Use of all the selected hospital-based AMI treatment strategies together would be cost-effective and reduce the total CHD mortality rate in China by ≈9.6%.
Conclusions
Optimal use of most standard hospital-based AMI treatment strategies, especially combined strategies, would be cost effective in China. However, because so many AMI deaths occur outside of the hospital in China, the overall impact on preventing CHD deaths was projected to be modest.
doi:10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.113.000674
PMCID: PMC4191653  PMID: 24425706
cost-benefit analysis; myocardial infarction; quality-adjusted life years; therapy
12.  Economic Evaluation of Cardio inCode®, a Clinical-Genetic Function for Coronary Heart Disease Risk Assessment 
Background
A clinical–genetic function (Cardio inCode®) was generated using genetic variants associated with coronary heart disease (CHD), but not with classical CHD risk factors, to achieve a more precise estimation of the CHD risk of individuals by incorporating genetics into risk equations [Framingham and REGICOR (Registre Gironí del Cor)].
Objective
The objective of this study was to conduct an economic analysis of the CHD risk assessment with Cardio inCode®, which incorporates the patient’s genetic risk into the functions of REGICOR and Framingham, compared with the standard method (using only the functions).
Methods
A Markov model was developed with seven states of health (low CHD risk, moderate CHD risk, high CHD risk, CHD event, recurrent CHD, chronic CHD, and death). The reclassification of CHD risk derived from genetic information and transition probabilities between states was obtained from a validation study conducted in cohorts of REGICOR (Spain) and Framingham (USA). It was assumed that patients classified as at moderate risk by the standard method were the best candidates to test the risk reclassification with Cardio inCode®. The utilities and costs (€; year 2011 values) of Markov states were obtained from the literature and Spanish sources. The analysis was performed from the perspective of the Spanish National Health System, for a life expectancy of 82 years in Spain. An annual discount rate of 3.5 % for costs and benefits was applied.
Results
For a Cardio inCode® price of €400, the cost per QALY gained compared with the standard method [incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER)] would be €12,969 and €21,385 in REGICOR and Framingham cohorts, respectively. The threshold price of Cardio inCode® to reach the ICER threshold generally accepted in Spain (€30,000/QALY) would range between €668 and €836. The greatest benefit occurred in the subgroup of patients with moderate–high risk, with a high-risk reclassification of 22.8 % and 12 % of patients and an ICER of €1,652/QALY and €5,884/QALY in the REGICOR and Framingham cohorts, respectively. Sensitivity analyses confirmed the stability of the study results.
Conclusions
Cardio inCode® is a cost-effective risk score option in CHD risk assessment compared with the standard method.
doi:10.1007/s40258-013-0053-x
PMCID: PMC3825137  PMID: 24078223
13.  Evaluation of medical and health economic effectiveness of non-pharmacological secondary prevention of coronary heart disease 
Background
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a common and potentially fatal malady with a life time prevalence of over 20%. For Germany, the mortality attributable to chronic ischemic heart disease or acute myocardial infarction is estimated at 140,000 deaths per year. An association between prognosis of CHD and lifestyle risk factors has been consistently shown. To positively influence lifestyle risk factors in patients with CHD, non-pharmaceutical secondary prevention strategies are frequently recommended and implemented.
Objectives
The aim of this HTA (HTA = Health Technology Assessment) is to summarise the current literature on strategies for non-pharmaceutical secondary prevention in patients with CHD and to evaluate their medical effectiveness/efficacy and cost-effectiveness as well as the ethical, social and legal implications. In addition, this report aims to compare the effectiveness and efficacy of different intervention components and to evaluate the generalisability with regard to the German context.
Methods
Relevant publications were identified by means of a structured search of databases accessed through the German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI). In addition, a manual search of identified reference lists was conducted. The present report includes German and English literature published between January 2003 and September 2008 targeting adults with CHD. The methodological quality of included studies was assessed according to pre-defined quality criteria, based on the criteria of evidence based medicine.
Results
Among 9,074 publications 43 medical publications met the inclusion criteria. Overall study quality is satisfactory, but only half the studies report overall mortality or cardiac mortality as an outcome, while the remaining studies report less reliable outcome parameters. The follow-up duration varies between twelve and 120 months. Although overall effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical secondary prevention programs shows considerable heterogeneity, there is evidence for the long-term effectiveness concerning mortality, recurrent cardiac events and quality of life. Interventions based on exercise and also multicomponent interventions report more conclusive evidence for reducing mortality, while interventions focusing on psychosocial risk factors seem to be more effective in improving quality of life. Only two studies from Germany fulfill the methodological criteria and are included in this report.
Additionally, 25 economic publications met the inclusion criteria. Both, quantity and quality of publications dealing with combined interventions are higher compared with those investigating single component interventions. However, there are difficulties in transferring the international results into the German health care system, because of its specific structure of the rehabilitation system. While international literature mostly shows a positive cost-effectiveness ratio of combined programs, almost without exception, studies investigate out-of hospital or home-based programs. The examination of publications evaluating the cost-effectiveness of single interventions merely shows a positive trend of exercise-based and smoking cessation programs. Due to a lack of appropriate studies, no conclusive evidence regarding psychosocial and dietary interventions is available.
Altogether eleven publications concerned with ethical or social issues of non-pharmacological secondary prevention strategies are included. These studies are relatively confirm the assumption that patients with a lower socioeconomic background reflect a population at increased risk and therefore have specific needs to participate in rehabilitation programs. However, there currently remains uncertainty, whether these patients participate in rehabilitation more or less often. As barriers, which deter patients from attending, aspects like a lack of motivation, family commitments or the distance between home and rehabilitation centres are identified. Psychological factors like anxiety, depression and uncertainty as well as physical constraints are also pointed out.
Discussion
Non-pharmacological secondary preventive strategies are safe and effective in improving mortality, morbidity and quality of life in patients with CHD. Because of the small number of reliable studies with long term follow up over 60 months, sustainability of observed intervention effects has to be regarded with caution. Due to a lack of suitable studies, it was not possible to determine the effectiveness of interventions in important patient subgroups as well as the comparative effectiveness of different intervention strategies, conclusively. Future research should, amongst others, attempt to investigate these questions in methodologically rigorous studies.
With regard to the cost-effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions, overall, international studies show positive results. However, there are considerable limitations due to the qualitative and quantitative deficiencies of identified studies. The special characteristics of the German rehabilitation system with its primarily inpatient offers result in further difficulties, when trying to transfer international study results to the German health care system. Both, studies demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of inpatient programs and those investigating the cost-effectiveness of single interventions are currently not available. To examine the German rehabilitation programs concerning their efficiency and their potential for optimisation, there is a need for further research.
Concerning social and ethical issues, a lack of studies addressing the structure of rehabilitation participants in Germany is striking. The same applies to studies examining the reasons for none participation in non-pharmacological secondary prevention programs. Evidence regarding these questions would provide an informative basis for optimising rehabilitation programs in Germany.
Conclusion
Non-pharmacological secondary prevention interventions are safe and able to reduce mortality from CHD and cardiac events, as well as to imporve patient’s quality of life. Nevertheless, there is considerable need for research; especially the effectiveness of interventions for important subgroups of CHD patients has to be evaluated. In addition to intervention effectiveness, there is also some evidence that interventions generate an appropriate cost-effectiveness ratio. However, future research should investigate this further. The same applies to the sustainability of secondary prevention programs and patient’s reasons for not attending them.
doi:10.3205/hta000078
PMCID: PMC3011286  PMID: 21289903
Coronary heart disease; secondary prevention; prevention, non-pharmacological; effectiveness; cost-effectiveness; efficiency; intervention, psychosocial; intervention, multimodal; exercise; training; reduction, stress; smoking cessation; dietary change; rehabilitation
14.  Cost effectiveness of statins in coronary heart disease 
Introduction: Statin therapy reduces the rate of coronary heart disease, but high costs in combination with a large population eligible for treatment ask for priority setting. Although trials agree on the size of the benefit, economic analyses of statins report contradictory results. This article reviewed cost effectiveness analyses of statins and sought to synthesise cost effectiveness ratios for categories of risk of coronary heart disease and age.
Methods: The review searched for studies comparing statins with no treatment for the prevention of either cardiovascular or coronary heart disease in men and presenting cost per years of life saved as outcome. Estimates were extracted, standardised for calendar year and currency, and stratified by categories of risk, age, and funding source
Results: 24 studies were included (from 50 retrieved), yielding 216 cost effectiveness ratios. Estimated ratios increase with decreasing risk. After stratification by risk, heterogeneity of ratios is large varying from savings to $59 000 per life year saved in the highest risk category and from $6500 to $490 000 in the lowest category. The pooled estimates show values of $21571 per life year saved for a 10 year coronary heart disease risk of 20% and $16862 per life year saved for 10 year risk of 30%.
Conclusion: Statin therapy is cost effective for high levels of risk, but inconsistencies exist at lower levels. Although the cost effectiveness of statins depends mainly on absolute risk, important heterogeneity remains after adjusting for absolute risk. Economic analyses need to increase their transparency to reduce their vulnerability to bias and increase their reproducibility.
doi:10.1136/jech.2005.034900
PMCID: PMC1732951  PMID: 16234419
15.  Is statin discontinuation an option in patients who have had a stroke? 
SYNOPSIS
BACKGROUND
There is clear evidence that long-term statin therapy can prevent the recurrence of vascular events, but in clinical practice, many patients discontinue statin therapy.
OBJECTIVE
To evaluate the effect of statin interruption on clinical outcome in patients discharged after an acute ischemic stroke.
DESIGN AND INTERVENTION
The present study was conducted at an Italian community hospital and enrolled consecutive stroke patients who were discharged from January 2000 to June 2005. Inclusion criteria were absence of any major concurrent illness, absence of any clinical and laboratory evidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) or of any other major cardiac affect or cardiac embolism, and discharge on statin therapy. After exclusions, 631 patients (51% male; mean ± SD age 70.2 ± 7.6 years) were enrolled. All participants were followed up for 12 months. Adherence to prescribed medications was evaluated by telephone interview at 1, 6 and 12 months after discharge. Switching from one cardiovascular agent to another of the same class was considered adherence to the prescribed therapy. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportionalhazards regression analyses were performed to identify risk factors for occurrence of the primary end point, and to identify clinical and demographic variables associated with statin therapy discontinuation during the follow-up period.
OUTCOME MEASURES
The primary end point was death from any cause within 12 months of discharge.
RESULTS
At discharge, 409 (77.6%) patients received a prescription for atorvastatin and 222 (22.4%) patients received a prescription for simvastatin. During the follow-up period, 246 (38.9%) patients discontinued statin therapy; the discontinuation rates were similar for both statins (P=0.544). Seventy-one (28.8%) patients stated mild adverse effects—such as dyspepsia, fatigue, headache and myalgia—as the reason for statin interruption. No instance of major adverse event was reported. In the remaining 175 (71.2%) cases, neither the patient nor the primary care physician could provide any specific medical reason for statin discontinuation. Multivariate analysis identified increasing age (hazard ratio [HR] 1.006 per year, 95% CI 1.004-1.009; P= 0.01) and female sex (HR 1.07, 95% CI 1.03-1.11; P= 0.02) as risk factors for statin discontinuation. By contrast, patients with diabetes were more likely to continue statin therapy (HR 0.86, 95% CI 0.79-0.91; P=0.03). A total of 116 patients died within 1 year of discharge. Ninety-two (79.3%) of these patients had discontinued statin therapy compared with 154 (29.9%) patients who survived (P=0.0001), and statin interruption was identified as an independent predictor of 12-month all-cause mortality (HR 2.78, 95% CI 1.96-3.72; P=0.003). Other independent predictors of death within the first year after the stroke event were increased age, obesity, diabetes, stroke severity on admission, and antiplatelet therapy discontinuation.
CONCLUSION
A considerable proportion of patients with acute ischemic stroke are at increased risk of death within the first year after the index event because they discontinue statin therapy, often without a specific medical reason.
doi:10.1038/ncpneuro0687
PMCID: PMC2615565  PMID: 18059384
coronary heart disease; death; statins; stroke; treatment discontinuation
16.  Estimation of the burden of cardiovascular disease attributable to modifiable risk factors and cost-effectiveness analysis of preventative interventions to reduce this burden in Argentina 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:627.
Background
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the primary cause of mortality and morbidity in Argentina representing 34.2% of deaths and 12.6% of potential years of life lost (PYLL). The aim of the study was to estimate the burden of acute coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke and the cost-effectiveness of preventative population-based and clinical interventions.
Methods
An epidemiological model was built incorporating prevalence and distribution of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hyperglycemia, overweight and obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity, obtained from the Argentine Survey of Risk Factors dataset. Population Attributable Fraction (PAF) of each risk factor was estimated using relative risks from international sources. Total fatal and non-fatal events, PYLL and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) were estimated. Costs of event were calculated from local utilization databases and expressed in international dollars (I$). Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) were estimated for six interventions: reducing salt in bread, mass media campaign to promote tobacco cessation, pharmacological therapy of high blood pressure, pharmacological therapy of high cholesterol, tobacco cessation therapy with bupropion, and a multidrug strategy for people with an estimated absolute risk > 20% in 10 years.
Results
An estimated total of 611,635 DALY was lost due to acute CHD and stroke for 2005. Modifiable risk factors explained 71.1% of DALY and more than 80% of events. Two interventions were cost-saving: lowering salt intake in the population through reducing salt in bread and multidrug therapy targeted to persons with an absolute risk above 20% in 10 years; three interventions had very acceptable ICERs: drug therapy for high blood pressure in hypertensive patients not yet undergoing treatment (I$ 2,908 per DALY saved), mass media campaign to promote tobacco cessation amongst smokers (I$ 3,186 per DALY saved), and lowering cholesterol with statin drug therapy (I$ 14,432 per DALY saved); and one intervention was not found to be cost-effective: tobacco cessation with bupropion (I$ 59,433 per DALY saved)
Conclusions
Most of the interventions selected were cost-saving or very cost-effective. This study aims to inform policy makers on resource-allocation decisions to reduce the burden of CVD in Argentina.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-627
PMCID: PMC2970607  PMID: 20961456
17.  Primary prevention of CVD: treating dyslipidaemia 
BMJ Clinical Evidence  2008;2008:0215.
Introduction
The incidence of dyslipidaemia is high: in 2000, approximately 25% of adults in the USA had total cholesterol greater than 6.2 mmol/L or were taking lipid-lowering medication. Primary prevention in this context is defined as long-term management of people at increased risk but with no clinically overt evidence of CVD — such as acute MI, angina, stroke, and PVD — and who have not undergone revascularisation.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of pharmacological cholesterol-lowering interventions in people at low risk (less than 0.6% annual CHD risk); at medium risk (0.6-1.4% annual CHD risk); and at high risk (at least 1.5% annual CHD risk)? What are the effects of reduced or modified fat diet? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to March 2006 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 15 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: fibrates, niacin, reduced- or modified-fat diet, resins, and statins.
Key Points
Dyslipidaemia, defined as elevated total or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, is an important risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. The incidence of dyslipidaemia is high: in 2000, approximately 25% of adults in the US had total cholesterol greater than 6.2 mmol/L, or were taking lipid-lowering medication.There is a continuous, graded relationship between the total plasma cholesterol concentration and ischaemic heart disease (IHD) morbidity and mortality. IHD is the leading single cause of death in high-income countries and second in low- and middle-income countries.Primary prevention in this context is defined as long-term management of people at increased risk, but with no clinically overt evidence of CVD, such as MI, angina, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease, and who have not undergone revascularisation.
Statins have been shown to be highly effective, particularly in treating people at high risk of CHD (more than 1.5% annually). Although effective in people in all risk categories (low risk, medium risk) , it appears that the magnitude of benefit is related to the individual's baseline risk of CHD events.
In people at medium risk of CHD (0.6%-1.4% annually), fibrates have been shown to effectively reduce the rate of CHD, but not of overall mortality, compared with placebo. Resins may also be beneficial in reducing non-fatal MI and CHD death in this group, but we found no evidence relating to the effects of niacin.We found no evidence that examined the efficacy of niacin, fibrates, or resins in people either at low or high risk of CHD.
The effectiveness of reduced-fat diets to reduce cardiovascular events in primary prevention is unclear.
PMCID: PMC2907953  PMID: 19450334
18.  Direct-To-Consumer Television Advertising Exposure, Diagnosis with High Cholesterol, and Statin Use 
ABSTRACT
BACKGROUND
While statin drugs are recommended for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD), there is no medical consensus on whether or not a statin should be added to lifestyle change efforts for primary prevention of CHD. Previous research suggests that exposure to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) increases drug demand among those at comparatively low risk. Research has yet to examine whether individual-level DTCA exposure may influence statin use among men and women at high, moderate, or low risk for future cardiac events.
OBJECTIVE
To determine the relationship between estimated exposure to DTCA for statin drugs and two clinical variables: diagnosis with high cholesterol and statin use.
DESIGN
We used logistic regression to analyze repeated cross-sectional surveys of the United States population, merged with data on the frequency of DTCA appearances on national, cable, and local television, between 2001 and 2007.
PARTICIPANTS
American adults (n = 106,685) aged 18 and older.
MAIN MEASURES
Levels of exposure to statin DTCA, based on ad appearances and TV viewing patterns; self-reports of whether or not a respondent has been diagnosed with high cholesterol, and whether or not a respondent took a statin in the past year.
KEY RESULTS
Adjusting for potential confounders, we estimate that exposure to statin ads increased the odds of being diagnosed with high cholesterol by 16 to 20 %, and increased statin use by 16 to 22 %, among both men and women (p < 0.05). These associations were driven almost exclusively by men and women at low risk for future cardiac events. There was also evidence of a negative association between DTCA exposure and statin use among high-risk women (p < 0.05)
CONCLUSIONS
This study provides new evidence that DTCA may promote over-diagnosis of high cholesterol and over-treatment for populations where risks of statin use may outweigh potential benefits.
doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2379-3
PMCID: PMC3682042  PMID: 23463454
DTCA; direct-to-consumer advertising; statins; cholesterol; screening; treatment
19.  Improving the cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular disease prevention in Australia: a modelling study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:398.
Background
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Like many countries, Australia is currently changing its guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention from drug treatment for everyone with ‘high blood pressure’ or ‘high cholesterol’, to prevention based on a patient’s absolute risk. In this research, we model cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular disease prevention with blood pressure and lipid drugs in Australia under three different scenarios: (1) the true current practice in Australia; (2) prevention as intended under the current guidelines; and (3) prevention according to proposed absolute risk levels. We consider the implications of changing to absolute risk-based cardiovascular disease prevention, for the health of the Australian people and for Government health sector expenditure over the long term.
Methods
We evaluate cost-effectiveness of statins, diuretics, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers, for Australian men and women, aged 35 to 84 years, who have never experienced a heart disease or stroke event. Epidemiological changes and health care costs are simulated by age and sex in a discrete time Markov model, to determine total impacts on population health and health sector costs over the lifetime, from which we derive cost-effectiveness ratios in 2008 Australian dollars per quality-adjusted life year.
Results
Cardiovascular disease prevention based on absolute risk is more cost-effective than prevention under the current guidelines based on single risk factor thresholds, and is more cost-effective than the current practice, which does not follow current clinical guidelines. Recommending blood pressure-lowering drugs to everyone with at least 5% absolute risk and statin drugs to everyone with at least 10% absolute risk, can achieve current levels of population health, while saving $5.4 billion for the Australian Government over the lifetime of the population. But savings could be as high as $7.1 billion if Australia could match the cheaper price of statin drugs in New Zealand.
Conclusions
Changing to absolute risk-based cardiovascular disease prevention is highly recommended for reducing health sector spending, but the Australian Government must also consider measures to reduce the cost of statin drugs, over and above the legislated price cuts of November 2010.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-398
PMCID: PMC3560211  PMID: 22657090
20.  Persistence with Statins and Onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(9):e1000336.
In a retrospective cohort study, Gabriel Chodick and colleagues find a significant association between persistence with statin therapy and reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, but only a modest decrease in risk of osteoarthritis.
Background
The beneficial effects of statins in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have been suggested previously, but it is unclear whether statins may prevent its development. The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to explore whether persistent use of statins is associated with onset of RA.
Methods and Findings
The computerized medical databases of a large health organization in Israel were used to identify diagnosed RA cases among adults who began statin therapy between 1998 and 2007. Persistence with statins was assessed by calculating the mean proportion of follow-up days covered (PDC) with statins for every study participant. To assess the possible effects of healthy user bias, we also examined the risk of osteoarthritis (OA), a common degenerative joint disease that is unlikely to be affected by use of statins.
A total of 211,627 and 193,770 individuals were eligible for the RA and OA cohort analyses, respectively. During the study follow-up period, there were 2,578 incident RA cases (3.07 per 1,000 person-years) and 17,878 incident OA cases (24.34 per 1,000 person-years). The crude incidence density rate of RA among nonpersistent patients (PDC level of <20%) was 51% higher (3.89 per 1,000 person-years) compared to highly persistent patients who were covered with statins for at least 80% of the follow-up period. After adjustment for potential confounders, highly persistent patients had a hazard ratio of 0.58 (95% confidence interval 0.52–0.65) for RA compared with nonpersistent patients. Larger differences were observed in younger patients and in patients initiating treatment with high efficacy statins. In the OA cohort analysis, high persistence with statins was associated only with a modest decrement in risk ratio (hazard ratio = 0.85; 0.81–0.88) compared to nonadherent patients.
Conclusions
The present study demonstrates an association between persistence with statin therapy and reduced risk of developing RA. The relationship between continuation of statin use and OA onset was weak and limited to patients with short-term follow-up.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The role of statins in the management of diseases that have an inflammatory component is unclear. There is some evidence that statins may have anti-inflammatory and immunumodulatory properties, demonstrated by reducing the level of C-reactive protein that may play an important role in chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis—a chronic condition that is a major cause of disability. Some small studies have suggested a modest effect of statins in decreasing disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a recent larger study involving over 30,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed no beneficial effect. Furthermore, it has been suggested that statins may have a role in the primary prevention of rheumatoid arthritis, but so far there has been no solid evidence base to support this hypothesis. Before statins can potentially be included in the treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, or possibly prescribed for the prevention of this condition, there needs to be a much stronger evidence base, such as larger studies with longer follow-up periods, which clearly demonstrates any significant clinical benefits of statin use.
Why Was This Study Done?
This large study (more than 200,000 patients) with a long follow-up period (average of 10 years) was conducted to discover whether there was any kind of association between persistent use of statins and the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study among the members of Maccabi Healthcare Services (a health maintenance organization [HMO]) in Israel, which has 1.8-million enrollees and covers every section of the Israeli population, to identify statin users who were at least 18 years of age and did not have RA or a related disease at study entry. The cohort covered the period 1998–2007 and included members who were continuously enrolled in the HMO from 1995 to 1998. The researchers then analyzed the incidence of newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis, recording the date of first diagnostic codes (International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision [ICD-9]) associated with rheumatoid arthritis during the study follow-up period. To assess any potential effects of “healthy adherer” bias (good adherence to medication in patients with a chronic illness may be more likely to lead to better health and improved survival), the researchers also examined any possible association between persistent statin use and the development of osteoarthritis, a common degenerative joint disease that is unlikely to be affected by statin use.
During the study follow-up period, there were 2,578 incident cases of rheumatoid arthritis and 17,878 incident cases of osteoarthritis. The crude incidence density rate of rheumatoid arthritis among patients who did not persistently take statins was 51% higher than that of patients who used statins for at least 80% of the follow-up period. Furthermore, patients who persistently used statins had a risk ratio of 0.58 for rheumatoid arthritis compared with patients who did not persistently use statins. In the osteoarthritis cohort analysis, high persistence with statin use was associated with a modest decrement in risk ratio (0.85) compared to patients who did not persist with statins.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study suggests that there is an association between persistence with statin therapy and reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Although the researchers took into account the possibility of healthy adherer bias (by comparing results with the osteoarthritis cohort), this study has other limitations, such as the retrospective design, and the nonrandomization of statin use, which could affect the interpretation of the results. However, the observed associations were greater than those that would be expected from methodological biases alone. Larger, systematic, controlled, prospective studies with high efficacy statins, particularly in younger adults who are at increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis, are needed to confirm these findings and to clarify the exact nature of the biological relationship between adherence to statin therapy and the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000336.
Arthritis Research UK provides a wide range of information on arthritis research
The American College of Rheumatology provides information on rheumatology research
Patient information on rheumatoid arthritis is available at Patient UK
Extensive information about statins is available at statin answers
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000336
PMCID: PMC2935457  PMID: 20838658
21.  Statin cost effectiveness in primary prevention: A systematic review of the recent cost-effectiveness literature in the United States 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:373.
Background
The literature on the cost-effectiveness of statin drugs in primary prevention of coronary heart disease is complex. The objective of this study is to compare the disparate results of recent cost-effectiveness analyses of statins.
Findings
We conducted a systematic review of the literature on statin cost-effectiveness. The four studies that met inclusion criteria reported varying conclusions about the cost-effectiveness of statin treatment, without a clear consensus as to whether statins are cost-effective for primary prevention. However, after accounting for each study’s assumptions about statin costs, we found substantial agreement among the studies. Studies that assumed statins to be more expensive found them to be less cost-effective, and vice-versa. Furthermore, treatment of low-risk groups became cost-effective as statins became less expensive.
Conclusions
Drug price is the primary determinant of statin cost-effectiveness within a given risk group. As more statin drugs become generic, patients at low risk for coronary disease may be treated cost-effectively. Though many factors must be weighed in any medical decision, from a cost-effectiveness perspective, statins may now be considered an appropriate therapy for many patients at low risk for heart disease.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-373
PMCID: PMC3444438  PMID: 22828389
Statin; Cost-effectiveness; Primary prevention; Drug cost; Systematic review
22.  Long-Term Interleukin-6 Levels and Subsequent Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Two New Prospective Studies and a Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(4):e78.
Background
The relevance to coronary heart disease (CHD) of cytokines that govern inflammatory cascades, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), may be underestimated because such mediators are short acting and prone to fluctuations. We evaluated associations of long-term circulating IL-6 levels with CHD risk (defined as nonfatal myocardial infarction [MI] or fatal CHD) in two population-based cohorts, involving serial measurements to enable correction for within-person variability. We updated a systematic review to put the new findings in context.
Methods and Findings
Measurements were made in samples obtained at baseline from 2,138 patients who had a first-ever nonfatal MI or died of CHD during follow-up, and from 4,267 controls in two cohorts comprising 24,230 participants. Correction for within-person variability was made using data from repeat measurements taken several years apart in several hundred participants. The year-to-year variability of IL-6 values within individuals was relatively high (regression dilution ratios of 0.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.28–0.53, over 4 y, and 0.35, 95% CI 0.23–0.48, over 12 y). Ignoring this variability, we found an odds ratio for CHD, adjusted for several established risk factors, of 1.46 (95% CI 1.29–1.65) per 2 standard deviation (SD) increase of baseline IL-6 values, similar to that for baseline C-reactive protein. After correction for within-person variability, the odds ratio for CHD was 2.14 (95% CI 1.45–3.15) with long-term average (“usual”) IL-6, similar to those for some established risk factors. Increasing IL-6 levels were associated with progressively increasing CHD risk. An updated systematic review of electronic databases and other sources identified 15 relevant previous population-based prospective studies of IL-6 and clinical coronary outcomes (i.e., MI or coronary death). Including the two current studies, the 17 available prospective studies gave a combined odds ratio of 1.61 (95% CI 1.42–1.83) per 2 SD increase in baseline IL-6 (corresponding to an odds ratio of 3.34 [95% CI 2.45–4.56] per 2 SD increase in usual [long-term average] IL-6 levels).
Conclusions
Long-term IL-6 levels are associated with CHD risk about as strongly as are some major established risk factors, but causality remains uncertain. These findings highlight the potential relevance of IL-6–mediated pathways to CHD.
John Danesh and colleagues show that long-term IL-6 levels are associated with coronary heart disease risk, thus highlighting the potential relevance of IL-6−mediated pathways to coronary heart disease.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Coronary heart disease (CHD), the leading cause of death among adults in developed countries, kills one person in the US every minute. With age, “atherosclerotic plaques”—deposits of fats, calcium, and various cellular waste products—coat the walls of arteries, causing them to narrow and harden, interrupting blood flow through the body. When this occurs in the coronary arteries, which nourish the heart muscle, the end result is CHD. If a plaque breaks off the artery wall, it can get trapped in the arteries and completely stop the blood flow, causing death of the heart muscle. The technical term for this is “myocardial infarction” (MI), although it is more commonly known as a heart attack. Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood levels of cholesterol (a type of fat), being overweight, and being physically inactive all increase the risk of developing CHD, as do some inherited factors. Treatments for CHD include lifestyle changes (for example, losing weight and exercising regularly) and medications that lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol. In the worst cases, the narrowed artery can be widened using a device called a stent or surgically bypassed.
Why Was This Study Done?
Atherosclerosis might, at least partly, be an inflammatory condition. Inflammation—an immune response to injury characterized by swelling and redness—involves the production of proteins called “cytokines,” which attract cells of the immune system to the site of injury. In atherosclerosis, damage to the artery walls seems to trigger inflammation, which helps the atherosclerotic plaques grow. Because of the potential involvement of inflammation in atherosclerosis, increased levels of circulating cytokines might be associated with an increased risk of CHD. If they are, cytokines might provide a new therapeutic target for the treatment of CHD. In this study, the researchers have asked whether prolonged moderate increases in the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the bloodstream are associated with CHD risk. IL-6, which is produced very early in inflammation, survives only briefly in the human body and its levels fluctuate within individuals. Consequently, its relevance to CHD has been unclear in previous studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1967 and 1991, nearly 25,000 healthy, mainly middle-aged people were enrolled into two studies—the Reykjavik Study and the British Regional Heart Study—and followed for about 20 years, during which time 2,138 people had a first-ever nonfatal heart attack or died of CHD. The researchers measured baseline IL-6 blood levels in these participants and in 4,267 similar participants who had not had a CHD event. They also measured IL-6 levels in 558 healthy participants several years into the study to determine a “regression dilution ratio” for IL-6. This ratio gives an idea of the year-to-year consistency of IL-6 levels. When the researchers used this ratio to estimate the impact of prolonged increases in IL-6 levels on CHD, they found that increased long-term IL-6 levels more than doubled the risk for CHD in their study populations. The researchers then combined these new results with those of 15 previous relevant studies. This combined analysis indicated very similar findings to those in the new data.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate prolonged moderate increases in IL-6 levels are associated with risk of CHD as strongly as several major established risk factors, including blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, but whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship remains unknown. More studies are needed to find out whether this result is generalisable to other populations, but the broad agreement between the Icelandic and British studies suggests that they should be. This study renews interest in IL-6–mediated inflammatory pathways and CHD.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050078.
Read a related PLoS Medicine Perspective article
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute on coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis
Information for patients and caregivers is provided by the American Heart Association on all aspects of heart disease, including inflammation and heart disease
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on heart disease and on keeping the heart healthy
Further details are available about the Reykjavik Study and the British Regional Heart Study
Wikipedia has pages on inflammation and on interleukin-6 (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050078
PMCID: PMC2288623  PMID: 18399716
23.  The use of statins in primary prevention  
Background
The use of statins in secondary prevention of cardiovascular events is well established. However, there is ongoing discussion about the use of statins in the context of primary prevention. Moreover statins - besides cholesterol-lowering effects - are assumed to have pleiotropic effects. Positive impacts on diseases like stroke, Alzheimer's disease or osteoporosis are discussed but still have to be proven.
Objectives
The aim of this report is first to investigate the efficacy and effectiveness of statins in primary prevention of cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular events and second to examine the economic implications for Germany - particularly in comparison to existing prevention programs. Finally ethical questions are considered.
Methods
A systematic literature search was performed for the period between 1998 and 2004 which yielded 3704 abstracts. Overall 43 articles were included for assessment and 167 for background information, according to predefined selection criteria.
Results
Most studies within the context of primary prevention describe significant risk reductions with regard to cardiovascular events; yet no significant results according to the reduction of the overall mortality rate can be seen. With respect to stroke, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease results are inconsistent. Regarding cost-effectiveness of primary prevention with statins results turn out to be inconsistent as well or even negative for populations with low to moderate risk. For groups with high cardiovascular risk the intervention is mostly assessed to be cost-effective. No cost-effectiveness study for Germany was found. According to a rough estimate of future expenses statin drug expenses of the German legal health insurance might increase at least by 50% in the case of an enlargement of the group of recipients.
Discussion
To thoroughly estimate the cost-effectiveness of the use of statins in primary prevention in Germany a model calculation including all relevant parameters has to be done. Moreover - from the economic as well as from the ethic point of view - one of the most important issues in primary prevention therapy is the question of compliance. The amount of risk reduction seen in primary prevention studies can be achieved only if patients as well as doctors follow therapeutic instructions and medical guidelines (as for example the guidelines of the "Adult Treatment Panel III", the "European guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice" or the guidelines of the German Association of Cardiology and of the "Arzneimittelkommission der deutschen Ärzteschaft für Koronare Herzkrankheit").
Conclusion
For (primary) prevention of cardiovascular diseases the use of statins as suggested in guidelines is recommended - provided that these guidelines are scientifically evaluated at regular intervals. Regarding stroke, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease definite conclusions cannot be drawn at present. Particular attention has to be paid to the problem of compliance both in statin-therapy as well as in alternative therapies. The cost-effectiveness of primary prevention with statins mainly depends on the development of statin prices.
PMCID: PMC3011349  PMID: 21289961
24.  COST-UTILITY OF ASPIRIN AND PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS FOR PRIMARY PREVENTION 
Archives of internal medicine  2011;171(3):218-225.
Background
Aspirin reduces myocardial infarction but increases gastrointestinal bleeding. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may reduce upper gastrointestinal bleed. We estimate the cost-utility of aspirin treatment with or without PPI for coronary heart disease (CHD) prevention among men at different risks for CHD and gastrointestinal bleed.
Methods
We updated a Markov model to compare costs and outcomes of low-dose aspirin+PPI (omeprazole 20-mg daily), low-dose aspirin alone, or no treatment for CHD prevention. We performed lifetime analyses in men with different risks for cardiovascular events and gastrointestinal bleed. Aspirin reduced nonfatal myocardial infarction by 30%, increased total stroke by 6%, and increased gastrointestinal bleed risk 2-fold. Adding PPI reduced upper gastrointestinal bleed by 80%. Annual aspirin cost was $13.99; generic PPI was $200.
Results
In 45-year-old men with 10-year CHD risk of 10% and 0.8/1,000 annual gastrointestinal bleed risk, aspirin ($17,571 and 18.67 quality-adjusted life years [QALYs]) was more effective and less costly than no treatment ($18,483 and 18.44 QALYs). Compared with aspirin alone, aspirin+PPI ($21,037 and 18.68 QALYs) had an incremental cost/QALY of $447,077. Results were similar in 55- and 65-year-old men. The incremental cost/QALY of adding PPI was less than $50,000/QALY at annual gastrointestinal bleed probabilities greater than 4–6/1,000.
Conclusion
Aspirin for CHD prevention is less costly and more effective than no treatment in men over 45 with greater than 10-year, 10% CHD risks. Adding PPI is not cost-effective for men with average gastrointestinal bleed risk but may be cost-effective for selected men at increased risk for gastrointestinal bleed.
doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.525
PMCID: PMC3137269  PMID: 21325111
25.  Should health insurers target prevention of cardiovascular disease?: a cost-effectiveness analysis of an individualised programme in Germany based on routine data 
Background
Cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death worldwide, making their prevention a major health care challenge. In 2006, a German statutory health insurance company presented a novel individualised prevention programme (KardioPro), which focused on coronary heart disease (CHD) screening, risk factor assessment, early detection and secondary prevention. This study evaluates KardioPro in CHD risk subgroups, and analyses the cost-effectiveness of different individualised prevention strategies.
Methods
The CHD risk subgroups were assembled based on routine data from the statutory health insurance company, making use of a quasi-beta regression model for risk prediction. The control group was selected via propensity score matching based on logistic regression and an approximate nearest neighbour approach. The main outcome was cost-effectiveness. Effectiveness was measured as event-free time, and events were defined as myocardial infarction, stroke and death. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios comparing participants with non-participants were calculated for each subgroup. To assess the uncertainty of results, a bootstrapping approach was applied.
Results
The cost-effectiveness of KardioPro in the group at high risk of CHD was €20,901 per event-free year; in the medium-risk group, €52,323 per event-free year; in the low-risk group, €186,074 per event-free year; and in the group with known CHD, €26,456 per event-free year. KardioPro was associated with a significant health gain but also a significant cost increase. However, statistical significance could not be shown for all subgroups.
Conclusion
The cost-effectiveness of KardioPro differs substantially according to the group being targeted. Depending on the willingness-to-pay, it may be reasonable to only offer KardioPro to patients at high risk of further cardiovascular events. This high-risk group could be identified from routine statutory health insurance data. However, the long-term consequences of KardioPro still need to be evaluated.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-263
PMCID: PMC4086686  PMID: 24938674
Coronary heart disease; Prevention programme; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Efficiency frontier; Subgroups analysis

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