Statins: are any questions unanswered?

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To summarize recent and ongoing randomized trials of statin therapy for the prevention of major vascular events.

Recent findings

Four large-scale randomized trials have compared high-dose vs. standard doses of statin therapy among patients with coronary heart disease, and their results suggest that higher doses are more effective for preventing major vascular events, albeit with evidence of increased toxicity. There is now clear evidence that statin therapy is effective among most patients with type 2 diabetes, although uncertainty remains about the benefits in those with advanced nephropathy. Ongoing trials will assess whether statin therapy is beneficial among patients with noncoronary vascular disease (such as congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, or aortic stenosis), and among people with comorbid conditions or risk factors that increase the risk of vascular disease (including chronic kidney disease and raised C-reactive protein with below average low-density lipoprotein cholesterol).

Summary

Statin therapy safely reduces the risk of vascular events in a wide range of patients. Uncertainties persist about the effects of higher statin doses and the role of statins among patients with specific conditions or risk factors.

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