Controversies in Clinical Practice

Viewpoint: Personalizing Statin Therapy

Shlomo Keidar and Aviva Gamliel-Lazarovich


Cardiovascular disease (CVD), associated with vascular atherosclerosis, is the major cause of death in Western societies. Current risk estimation tools, such as Framingham Risk Score (FRS), based on evaluation of multiple standard risk factors, are limited in assessment of individual risk. The majority (about 70%) of the general population is classified as low FRS where the individual risk for CVD is often underestimated but, on the other hand, cholesterol lowering with statin is often excessively administered. Adverse effects of statin therapy, such as muscle pain, affect a large proportion of the treated patients and have a significant influence on their quality of life. Coronary artery calcification (CAC), as assessed by computed tomography, carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), and especially presence of plaques as assessed by B-mode ultrasound are directly correlated with increased risk for cardiovascular events and provide accurate and relevant information for individual risk assessment. Absence of vascular pathology as assessed by these imaging methods has a very high negative predictive value and therefore could be used as a method to reduce significantly the number of subjects who, in our opinion, would not benefit from statins and only suffer from their side-effects. In summary, we suggest that in very-low-risk subjects, with the exception of subjects with low FRS with a family history of coronary artery disease (CAD) at young age, if vascular imaging shows no CAC or normal CIMT without plaques, statin treatment need not be administered.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2013;4(2):e0008