A 52-year-old man with no medical history other than a transient ischemic attack (TIA) three months ago presents to the emergency department (ED) following multiple episodes of substernal (ST) chest pressure. He takes no medication. His electrocardiogram (ECG) revealed lateral ST segment depressions, and his cardiac biomarkers were elevated. He underwent cardiac catheterization, and a single drug-eluting stent was successfully placed to a culprit left circumflex lesion. He is now stable less than 24 hours following his initial presentation, without any evidence of heart failure. His providers prescribe aspirin, clopidogrel, metoprolol, and lisinopril. His fasting LDL level is 92 mg/dL.
What, if any, is the role for lipid-lowering therapy at this time?
Long-term therapy with HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) has been shown through several large, randomized, controlled trials to reduce the risk for death, myocardial infarction (MI), and stroke in patients with established coronary disease. The most significant effects were evident after approximately two years of treatment.1,2,3,4
Subsequent trials have shown earlier and more significant reductions in the rates of recurrent ischemic cardiovascular events following acute coronary syndromes (ACS) when statins are administered early—within days of the initial event. This is a window of time in which most patients still are hospitalized.4,5,6,7
In addition to this data regarding statin use following ACS, a large, randomized, controlled trial demonstrated similar reductions in the incidence of strokes and cardiovascular events when high-dose atorvastatin was administered within one to six months following TIA or stroke in patients without established coronary disease.8 There is growing data supporting the hypothesis that statins have pleiotropic (non cholesterol-lowering), neuroprotective, properties that may improve patient outcomes following cerebrovascular events.9,10,11 There are ongoing trials investing the role of statins in the acute management of stroke.12,13