Benefits and risks of simvastatin in patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia

Pedro Mata, Rodrigo Alonso, Juan J. Badimón

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Familial hypercholesterolaemia is a frequent, inherited, monogenic disorder, associated with accelerated development of atherosclerotic disease leading to coronary artery disease. Life expectancy of patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia is reduced by 15-30 years unless they are adequately treated with lipid-lowering therapy. Given the chronic nature of this disease, the selection of a therapeutic approach should be strongly based on its long-term safety and tolerability. The introduction of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors has revolutionised the treatment of familial hypercholesterolaemia. Simvastatin 40-80 mg/day effectively reduces serum low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol levels. Furthermore, simvastatin reduces triglycerides and mildly raises high density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels. In addition to the hypolipidaemic effect, other potentially important effects, such as improvement of endothelial function and reduction of LDL oxidation and vascular inflammation, have been associated with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor therapy. Simvastatin has also been shown to abolish the progression, and even facilitate the regression, of existing human atherosclerotic lesions. The good safety and tolerability profile of simvastatin is clearly highlighted by the low rate of therapy discontinuation observed in several population-based clinical trials. The most common adverse events leading to the discontinuation of therapy are gastrointestinal upset and headache. Asymptomatic elevations in liver transaminase levels and myopathy are uncommon. The overwhelming clinical evidence regarding the long-term use of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor therapy in patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia together with the long-term safety data (particularly relating to simvastatin) provide support for the use of this drug as a first-line agent when pharmacological treatment is indicated. Early intervention with simvastatin treatment can be successfully implemented with favourable economic benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-786
Number of pages18
JournalDrug Safety
Volume26
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

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