Evaluation of Lipid-Lowering Therapy and Cholesterol Goal Attainment in Finland: The National FINRISK Study

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European and US study findings show that patients in primary care and specialty care are not adequately treated for cholesterol reduction.


To evaluate lipid-lowering treatment in Finland, estimate the proportions of subjects who are achieving cholesterol goals, and assess the influence of determinants on goal attainment.


Subgroup analysis of the FINRISK study, a national study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in Finland. Study participants, the subgroup of patients on lipid-lowering therapy from FINRISK, completed a postal self-administered questionnaire on health/health behavioral factors. Serum total cholesterol (TC) and other clinical variables were measured using a standardized protocol. Ten-year coronary risk was computed using Framingham risk equations. The influence of certain factors on goal attainment was determined by logistic regression analysis. The main outcome measure was the proportion of subjects who were receiving lipid-lowering therapy and achieved a TC goal of <5 mmol/L (<194 mg/dL).


Among 9581 respondents, 622 subjects were on lipid-lowering therapy. Of these, 68 subjects were excluded because of missing data on TC and/or the type/dose of therapy. Among the 554 subjects included, 210 (38%) were secondary-prevention patients and 51% had 10-year coronary risk ≥20%. Approximately two-thirds of subjects were prescribed simvastatin (42%) or atorvastatin (26%), and about half (51%) were prescribed low-equipotency HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins). There was no difference in equipotent doses of statins prescribed for primary and secondary prevention. About half (54%) of subjects did not attain their cholesterol goal (TC <5.0 mmol/L [194 mg/dL]). Subjects with coronary heart disease (odds ratio [OR] 3.00; 95% CI 2.07, 4.35) and patients prescribed medium-to-high equipotent statins (OR 1.93; 95% CI 1.35, 2.76) were more likely to achieve cholesterol goals, whereas postmenopausal women (OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.42, 0.88) were less likely than men to achieve cholesterol goals.


Most (92%) patients receiving lipid-lowering therapy in a Finnish population were managed on statin monotherapy and approximately half of the patients did not achieve their recommended cholesterol goals. More effective and safe therapies are needed to enhance cholesterol goal attainment. These treatments might include regimens that act on two or more pharmacologic pathways.

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