Early, intensive statin treatment reduces ‘hard’ cardiovascular outcomes after acute coronary syndrome

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Early, intensive statin treatment is the standard of care after acute coronary syndrome (ACS). However, the benefit of this approach to prevent major adverse cardiovascular events has been demonstrated in only one randomised, placebo controlled trial. The Myocardial Ischemia Reduction with Aggressive Cholesterol Lowering (MIRACL) trial demonstrated that atorvastatin 80 mg daily, compared with placebo, reduced time to first occurrence of death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, resuscitated cardiac arrest, or hospitalisation for unstable angina (stroke not included) during the 16 week period following ACS. However, there were no significant effects on individual components of the composite endpoint except unstable angina. This led some to question whether early, intensive statin treatment reduces ‘hard’ events after ACS.


The burden of coronary heart disease after ACS, and therefore the efficacy of its treatment, depends not only on the occurrence of one ischaemic event, but rather on cumulative events experienced by patients. Accordingly, we conducted a post-hoc analysis of the MIRACL trial to examine the effect of atorvastatin on first as well as recurrent (i.e. total) hard cardiovascular events after ACS (death, myocardial infarction, stroke, and resuscitated cardiac arrest).

Methods and Results

In the 3086 patients who comprised the MIRACL trial, atorvastatin 80 mg did not reduce time to first hard event compared with placebo (hazard ratio 0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.72–1.10, P = 0.27). However, atorvastatin significantly reduced total hard events (hazard ratio 0.80, 95% confidence interval 0.66–0.97, P = 0.03). To prevent one hard event during the 16 weeks following ACS, only 11 patient-years of treatment with atorvastatin were required.


Early, intensive treatment with atorvastatin is an efficient intervention to reduce hard cardiovascular events after ACS.

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