An elevated level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is a form of dyslipidaemia that has been shown to be strongly associated with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD), leading to cardiovascular events.1
Risk factors for cholesterol
Such cardiovascular risk is considerably increased by additional risk factors, including low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), age, gender, family history, smoking, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.2
Detection of elevated LDL-C usually occurs through clinical consultation. An individual patient’s additional cardiovascular risk factors, co-morbidities, and other factors should also be considered prior to treatment.
Before a prescribing decision is made, each patient’s overall level of cardiovascular risk should be assessed. The higher an individual patient’s cardiovascular risk, the greater the intensity of risk-reduction therapy they should be offered.
Statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) are the treatment of choice for reducing LDL-C levels and have also been shown to be very effective at improving cardiovascular outcomes in patients with dyslipidaemia, with or without existing CVD.
The benefits of statin therapy on CVD morbidity and mortality outcomes have been demonstrated in patients with a wide range of cardiovascular risk factors. Monitoring of LDL-C and other risk factors should be maintained alongside statin treatment.
1. In: Fast Facts - Hyperlipidaemia. Eds Durrington P, Sniderman A. Health Press Ltd, Oxford, 2000. 1-17.
2. Wood D et al, for the Joint European Committee, Second Task Force of European and other Societies. Atherosclerosis 1998; 140: 199-270.