Randomized cardiovascular trials aimed to reduce the excessive residual risk in high-risk patients through a more aggressive low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol control or targeting triglycerides or high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels have shown a null or, at best, limited incremental benefit. In some cases, the treatment produced meaningful effects only in study subgroups. As a consequence, some compounds were withdrawn (e.g., nicotinic acid derivatives and cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors), whereas others (fibrates) are utilized with reluctance due to the low level of evidence-based data. By reviewing these trials analytically, we identified a common feature that might explain their meager results: most of them involved patients generically at high cardiovascular risk with normal or near normal lipid levels and not patients with “true” dyslipidemia, who would receive the treatment if it were part of usual care. These observations may warrant re-examining a central criterion of pragmatism, eligibility, in the outline of forthcoming cardiovascular trials with novel lipid-modifying drugs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)