Cardiology Intensive Board Review, 3th Edition

Chapter 12 - Hyperlipidemia

Michael B. Rocco


1.Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a common autosomal dominant disorder resulting from mutations leading to impaired hepatic clearance of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from the circulation. All of the following statements are true regarding heterozygous FH except that occurs in 1 in 5,000 persons. is associated with serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) two to three times above the average. is associated with four- to sixfold increased risk of premature coronary heart disease (CHD).

d.without treatment, the average age for development of symptomatic CHD is 45 years in men and 55 years in women.

e.ninety percent of FH heterozygotes exhibit detectable xanthomas on the extensor tendons of the hands or on the Achilles tendons by the age of 39.

2.Phenotypic presentation of FH has been demonstrated to be caused by various mutations associated with all but one of the following:

a.Defects in the hepatic LDL receptor (LDL-R)

b.Defects in apolipoprotein B (apoB)

c.Loss-of-function mutation of PCSK9

d.Loss-of-function mutation of LDLRAP1

3.A 31-year-old man is referred to you for hyperlipidemia assessment. He has no previous cardiovascular history himself and denies any first-degree relatives with a history of CHD although his father and paternal uncle are treated for elevated cholesterol and triglycerides (TGs). He reports that two uncles and a cousin have had heart attacks at young ages. His physical examination reveals a body mass index (BMI) of 32, arcus cornea and xanthelasmas but no xanthomas, and a blood pressure (BP) of 150/80 mmHg. His fasting lipid profile is as follows: total cholesterol (TC) 300 mg/dL, TGs 430 mg/dL, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) 50 mg/dL, direct LDL-C 202 mg/dL. Fasting blood glucose is 112 mg/dL. Which primary dyslipidemia is this patient most likely to have?

a.Polygenic hypercholesterolemia

b.Heterozygous FH

c.Familial combined hyperlipidemia


e.Familial endogenous hypertriglyceridemia

4.Which of the following statements regarding FH is NOT true?

a.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indications for LDL apheresis after maximal tolerated pharmacologic therapy include (a) homozygous FH patients and (b) heterozygous FH in the absence of CHD when LDL-C ≥300 mg/dL and in the presence of CHD when LDL-C ≥200 mg/dL.

b.Mipomersen (which inhibits the translation of apoB100 mRNA, thus blocking the production of apoB100 and formation of very low-density lipoprotein [VLDL] and LDL particles) lowers LDL-C by 28% to 36% in individuals with homozygous and heterozygous FH.

c.TC levels are generally >600 mg/dL with LDL-C levels 6- to eightfold higher than average in individuals with homozygous FH.

d.Lomitapide has been approved to treat homozygous and heterozygous FH.

e.Simon Broome Register Group criteria for definite FH requires (a) TC >290 mg/dL in adults or TC >260 mg/dL in children under 16 years OR LDL-C >190 mg/dL in adults or >155 mg/dL in children PLUS (b) tendon xanthomas in the patient, or first- or second-degree relative OR DNA-based evidence of mutations such as LDL-R mutation or familial defective apoB100.

5.Recent statistics from the American Heart Association (AHA) Statistical Update in 2014 report that all of the following regarding dyslipidemia in the United States are true EXCEPT that

a.98,900,000 U.S. adults over 20 years of age have elevated TC >200 mg/dL (43.4%).

b.35.8% of adults have LDL >130 mg/dL (71 million adults).

c.48.7 million adults (21.8%) have HDL <40 mg/dL.

d.National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data through 2006 reported that 10.3% of adolescents (12 to 19 years) have abnormal lipid levels.

e.inadequate control of dyslipidemia is responsible for 4 million yearly deaths worldwide and 350,000 in the United States.

f.68.2% of adults and 31.8% of children/adolescents are overweight or obese.

6.Many randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses have contributed to the lipid management guidelines over the past two decades. Which of the following statements is NOT correct?

a.PROVE-IT/TIMI-22 showed that individuals post myocardial infarction (MI) treated with the more potent statin atorvastatin versus pravastatin had a 16% relative risk reduction.

b.The JUPITER trial demonstrated that in individuals without documented cardiovascular disease (CVD) and median LDL-C of 108 mg/dL, aggressive statin therapy with rosuvastatin offered greater benefit in individuals with ultrasensitive C-reactive protein (usCRP) >2 versus <2 mg/L.

c.Primary prevention hypertensive patients in the ASCOT-LLA trial showed reductions in nonfatal MI, CHD death but not all-cause mortality when patients with average lipids and hypertension were treated with atorvastatin 10 mg daily for an average of 3.3 years.

d.WOSCOPS and AFCAPS/TexCAPS were both primary CHD prevention studies, which showed significant clinical benefits for statin therapy, with similar percentage reductions in LDL-C. The main difference between these trials was that subjects in AFCAPS/TexCAPS had considerably lower baseline LDL-C levels than those in WOSCOPS.

e.Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S), Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE), and Long-Term Intervention with Pravastatin in Ischemic Disease (LIPID) all involved secondary prevention of CHD.

f.Meta-analyses have demonstrated a >20% reduction in CHD events for every 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL-C with similar proportional reductions in diabetics versus nondiabetics. Similar percent reductions were seen even in lower-risk groups with <5% 5-year risk for CVD.

7.The Framingham Risk Score (FRS) was popularized in the National Cholesterol Education Project: Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP ATP) III guidelines. Potential limitations of the FRS include the following:

1.Does not take family history into account

2.May overestimate lifetime risk in individuals ≤50 years of age with ≥1 NCEP risk factor

3.May not accurately calculate risk in certain ethnic groups because original Framingham population was almost entirely of European origin

4.Incorporates risk due to insulin-resistant conditions such as metabolic syndrome

5.Does not include emerging risk factors such as CRP, lipoprotein(a), and apoB

a.All of the above

b.1, 3, and 5

c.1, 3, 4, and 5

d.None of the above

8.Based on the definition proposed by the NCEP ATP III guidelines, metabolic syndrome would be present if three or more of five criteria were present. Which of the following is NOT one of the criteria?

a.BP ≥130/≥85 or on treatment for hypertension

b.TGs ≥150 mg/dL

c.HDL-C of <40 mg/dL in men and women

d.Fasting glucose =100 mg/dL

e.Waist circumference of >40 inches in men and >35 inches in women

9.NCEP ATP III was published in 2001. Modifications to NCEP ATP III published in 2004 include all of the following except that

a.LDL-C goal <70 mg/dL is a therapeutic option for very high-risk patients.

b.LDL-C goal <70 mg/dL extends to patients at very high risk even with baseline LDL-C <100 mg/dL.

c.factors that favor the optional goal of <70 mg/dL include CVD plus multiple major risk factors (especially diabetes), severe and poorly controlled risk factors (especially smoking), metabolic syndrome, and acute coronary syndromes.

d.for moderately high-risk patients, LDL-C <100 mg/dL is an option with consideration of initiation of therapy with statins for LDL-C between 100 and 130 mg/dL.

e.both higher-dose statins and addition of fibrates and niacin to achieve non–HDL-C goals should be considered to achieve secondary targets and to further reduce cardiovascular event rate.

10.A 53-year-old obese, sedentary woman undergoes lipid screening, revealing TC of 310, TG of 720, HDL-C of 41. LDL-C was not calculated due to elevated TG. HbA1c is 5.9 and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is normal. NCEP ATP III guideline recommendations for TGs and HDL-C management include all but which of the following:

a.If TGs are ≥500 mg/dL, then TG is the primary target with use of therapeutic options to prevent pancreatitis including fibrates or niacin before LDL-lowering therapy, than treat LDL-C to goal.

b.In patients attaining LDL-C goals, those with TG ≥200 mg/dL have an increased cholesterol content of TG-rich, atherogenic lipoprotein particles. Non–HDL-C takes into account cholesterol in these and LDL particles and is a secondary target for therapy.

c.Therapeutic goal for TG is <150 mg/dL and for HDL-C is >40 in men and >50 in women.

d.HDL-C <40 mg/dL is defined as low and is a risk factor for CVD.

e.Non–HDL-C goal equals the LDL-C goal +30 mg/dL.

f.Combining a fibrate or nicotinic acid with an LDL-C-lowering drug can be considered.

11.Guidelines for management of dyslipidemia emphasize the importance of weight management, dietary choices, and exercise. TLC or Therapeutic Life Style Therapies for primary prevention of CVD include all of the following except to reduce intake of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol with total fat range of 25% to 30% of total calories, saturated fat <7% of calories, and low intake of transfatty acids and <200 mg/day of cholesterol.

b.increased intake of plant stanols/sterols up to 2 g/day as a therapeutic option to reduce LDL-C.

c.increased intake of viscous (soluble) fiber to at least 5 to 10 g/day. polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements of 800 to 1,000 mg a day.

e.regular physical activity: >30 minutes five to seven times per week or enough moderate activity to expend at least 200 kcal/day.

f.weight loss to maintain BMI <25 kg/m2.

12.Secondary causes of dyslipidemia include all EXCEPT which of the following?


b.Obstructive liver disease/biliary cirrhosis

c.Renal disorders including nephrotic syndrome and chronic renal failure

d.Drugs including estrogen/progestins, protease inhibitors, anabolic steroids, corticosteroids, isotretinoin (Accutane®), and cyclosporine

e.Metabolic syndrome or diabetes mellitus (DM)


13.According to NCEP ATP III, CHD risk equivalent defines high-risk individuals who would benefit from more intensive lipid-modifying therapies and include individuals with all of the following except

a.diabetes and additional cardiovascular risk factors.

b.FRS indicating a 10-year risk of MI or coronary death of >10%.

c.claudication with an ankle brachial index of 0.78.

d.individual status post aortic aneurysm endograft.

e.history of transient ischemic attack (TIA) followed by carotid endarterectomy.

Questions 14 to 16

You see a 52-year-old man with a history of type 2 DM on metformin. He has a history of hypertension controlled on amlodipine and an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. His BMI is 31.7 and waste circumference is 41 inches. His father had a coronary stent at the age of 54. He has the following fasting laboratory values:

Total C: 212 mg/dL

LDL-C: 120 mg/dL

HDL-C: 36 mg/dL

TG: 278 mg/dL

Non–HDL-C: 176 mg/dL

Glucose: 156 mg/dL

HbA1c: 7.6%

TSH: 1.2 mU/L

LFTs (liver function tests): WNL (within normal limits)

14.Based on NCEP ATP III and American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines, the most appropriate lipid goals for therapy in this patient are

a.LDL <70 mg/dL and non-HDL <100.

b.LDL <100 mg/dL and non-HDL <130.

c.LDL <70 mg/dL and non-HDL <130.

d.LDL <130 mg/dL and non-HDL <160.

15.Additional secondary goals for therapy in this patient based on these guidelines include

a.apoB <80 mg/dL.

b.apoB <90 mg/dL.

c.LDL particle number (LDL-P) <1,200.

d.LDL-P <1,000.

e.usCRP <2.

f.Answers a and d.

g.Answers a and e.

16.The best initial treatment for this patient’s dyslipidemia would be

a.atorvastatin 40 mg/day.

b.fenofibrate 148 mg/day.

c.extended release niacin 2,000 mg/day.

d.simvastatin 20 mg/day.

e.ezetimibe 10 mg/day. fish oil 4,000 mg/day.

17.The patient above was started on rosuvastatin 20 mg/day, metformin dose was increased, an aerobic exercise program was recommended, and he was referred for dietary advice. Repeat laboratory values in 4 months are as follows:

The most appropriate additional therapies recommended by NCEP ATP II at this time would include all but

a.nicotinic acid.



d.intensification of diet, exercise, and weight loss program.

e.intensification of statin therapy, increase rosuvastatin to 40 mg/day.

f.all of the above.

g.none of the above.

18.Patients such as the one above with diabetes are considered at high risk for CVD events. Which of the following statements is not true in regard to patients with diabetes?

a.Atherosclerosis accounts for approximately 65% to 75% of all diabetic mortality with 75% of these deaths due to coronary atherosclerosis.

b.A diabetic patient without a clinical history of prior MI or coronary artery disease (CHD) has a mortality rate from CHD and MI rate equal to a nondiabetic who has had a previous MI.

c.NHANES data from 2010 indicate that although goals of HbA1c <7 mg/dL, systolic BP <130 mmHg, and LDL-C <100 mg/dL are recommended for diabetics, only 32% of diabetics in the survey currently achieve all three of these goals.

d.Risk for atherosclerotic events is two- to fourfold greater in diabetics than in nondiabetics.

e.Atherosclerosis begins years to decades prior to diagnosis of type DM2 and >50% already have clinical CHD at the time of the diagnosis of DM.

19.Additional markers beyond standard risk factors have been shown to help reclassify risk assessment particularly in individuals in an intermediate-risk category (e.g., FRS of 10% to 20% or American College of Cardiology [ACC]/AHA guideline risk score of 5% to 7.5%). All but one of the following may be useful in hyperlipidemia treatment decisions:



c.Coronary artery calcification score (CACS)

d.HDL particle size and number


20.Major differences in the ACC/AHA hyperlipidemia treatment guidelines of 2013 compared with NCEP ATP III recommendations include all of the following except

1.elimination of LDL-C and non–HDL-C targets for therapy.

2.a focus on risk reduction targeting therapy to four major groups demonstrated to benefit from statin therapy based on RCT data rather than targeted to risk category and LDL-C level.

3.replacing the FRS with a newly developed risk calculator that includes ethnicity and family history and broadens the outcome events to include stroke.

4.that since the absolute benefit in CVD risk reduction is proportional to the baseline risk of the individual and to the intensity of statin therapy, treatment is focused on intensity of statin treatment and does not recommend use of low-dose statin therapies.

5.that decreasing statin dose is reasonable if LDL-C on therapy is <40 mg/dL.

a.None, all are true

b.1, 3, and 5

c.3 and 5

d.All are not true

e.3, 4, and 5

21.The ACC/AHA hyperlipidemia guidelines of 2013 identify four groups shown to benefit from high-intensity and moderate-intensity statin therapy for use in secondary and primary prevention of CVD. High-risk individuals who would be a candidate for high-intensity statin therapy for LDL-C lowering would include all except

a.those with clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).

b.primary elevations of LDL-C ≥160 mg/dL.

c.individuals with diabetes aged 40 to 75 years with LDL-C 70 to 189 mg/dL without clinical ASCVD and with ASCVD risk ≥7.5%.

d.without clinical ASCVD or diabetes with LDL-C 70 to 189 mg/dL and estimated 10-year ASCVD risk ≥7.5%.

22.The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2008 lipid management recommendations for children and teenagers include all of the following except

a.screening as early as 2 years of age in setting of family history of CVD or hyperlipidemia.

b.lower LDL cut points for initiation of treatment dependent on risk level.

c.bile acid sequestrants as initial therapy in younger patients under 16 years of age.

d.considering initiation of therapy as early as 8 years of age in high-risk children.

e.emphasis on overweight, high TG, and low HDL managed with lifestyle interventions and weight management.

f.fiber up to 20 g/day and use of dietary plant stanols/sterols.

23.In decisions regarding screening for and treating hyperlipidemia in children and adolescents, it is important to remember that all of the following are true except that

1.cholesterol is lowest intrauterine and at birth.

2.concentrations are similar to young adult levels by 2 years of age with strongest relation to adult levels at 5 to 10 years and 17 to 19 years.

3.cholesterol levels decrease from 10% to 20% during pre-pubertal and pubertal development.

4.low-fat diets should not be implemented until after age 5 years.

5.statins have not been shown to have an adverse effect on sexual or physical maturation.

6.impact on the atherosclerotic process and clinical outcomes has been demonstrated with statin treatment in children and adolescents.

a.None of the above

b.2, 4, and 6

c.4 and 6

d.3, 5, and 6

e.All of the above

24.Although statin therapy and LDL-C reduction is the main thrust of pharmacologic therapies, there has been an interest in treating beyond LDL-C with other therapies directed toward HDL-C and TG to further reduce CVD events. This concept is supported by the following observations except that

a.cardiovascular events occur in individuals with treated LDL-C even after aggressive LDL lowering with statins.

b.patients with diabetes studied in clinical trials on statins have CVD event rates higher than the CVD event rates of those patients without diabetes on placebo.

c.intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) studies have shown LDL-C <70 to 80 mg/dL to be associated with plaque regression but the 20% of individuals that progress on therapy often have DM, less increase in HDL, and less decrease in apoB on treatment.

d.the action to control cardiovascular risk in diabetes clinical trial (ACCORD) trial demonstrated a benefit of fenofibrate when added to baseline simvastatin therapy in diabetic patients.

e.observational studies have noted an impact of low/abnormally functioning HDL, VLDL remnants, elevated TG small dense LDL, LDL-P, and apoB/apoA ratios on adverse outcomes.

f.epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome associated with dyslipidemia is marked by only modest elevations in LDL-C but increases in HDL-C and TG.

25.In the setting of strong observational and epidemiologic data supporting HDL-C’s relationship to CVD risk, the limitations of current therapies, and the increase in incidence of diabetes/metabolic syndrome, there remains a strong interest in focusing on other therapeutic interventions in addition to LDL-C lowering, particularly HDL modulation. HDL is more than a simple carrier of cholesterol. Which of the following statements regarding HDL-C metabolism and function is not true?

a.In addition to reverse cholesterol transport, HDL may have beneficial effects due to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

b.ATP-binding cassette transporter 1 (ABCA1) and ABCG1 both facilitate free cholesterol efflux to lipid-poor pre-β1-HDL.

c.Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) enables exchange of cholesterol esters for TGs between HDL and apoB-containing lipoproteins (LDL and VLDL).

d.HDL can deliver cholesterol to the liver via both direct and indirect reverse cholesterol transport.

26.Since most lipid-lowering guidelines emphasize the use of statin therapy and at potent doses in the highest-risk individuals, it is important to recognize side effects. Clinically significant adverse effects of statins include all of the following except

a.muscle-related adverse events.

b.liver-related adverse events.

c.renal insufficiency.



27.You see a 68-year-old woman recently started on a statin for a calculated FRS of 18% 10-year risk and elevated usCRP. She returns in 6 weeks complaining of left lower extremity aching, which she had not experienced before. Regarding muscle-related side effects with statin drugs, all of the following statements are true except that

a.myopathy occurs in approximately 0.1% to 0.5% of patients on statin monotherapy and is dose dependent.

b.the incidence of statin-associated rhabdomyolysis across large, randomized, controlled statin trials is <0.1% and the reported incidence of fatal rhabdomyolysis with statins is extremely rare with 0.15 death per 1 million prescriptions.

c.a review of five large-scale controlled clinical trials of statin safety reported a rate of myopathy ranged from 0.1% to 0.6% and rate of rhabdomyolysis ranged from 0.03% to 0.05%.

d.myalgia symptoms reported in prescribing information range from 5% to 10%.

e.identifying factors that may contribute to myopathy should lead to statin dose reduction.

28.For the patient in Question 27, you obtain a creatine phosphokinase (CPK) which is 282 (upper normal in laboratory of 220 U/L). No baseline CPK is available for comparison. She has no reproducible pain or weakness on examination. She denies darkening of the urine. Should you stop the statin?



29.You see a 49-year-old obese, sedentary woman with type 2 DM, hypertension, and family history of coronary stent in her father at age 53. LDL-C was 173 mg/dL. Based on NCEP ATP III and 2013 ACC/AHA guidelines she is a candidate for intensive statin therapy. Laboratory values obtained 3 months after treatment with 40 mg of atorvastatin revealed alanine transaminase (ALT)/aspartate transaminase (AST) of 102/96 (upper normal in laboratory of 50/42 U/L). Which of the following regarding liver abnormalities with statin use is not true?

a.Reversal of transaminase elevation is frequently noted with continuation of statins or a reduction in statin dose.

b.Elevations do not often recur with either readministration or selection of another statin.

c.Statins have been shown to worsen the outcome in persons with chronic transaminase elevations due to hepatitis B or C.

d.In this patient review other drugs and supplements, continue the current dose, and repeat in 6 to 12 weeks.

e.Baseline measurement of ALT should be performed before starting therapy.

30.Later that afternoon you are referred a 58-year-old man with waist circumference of 42 inches, fasting glucose of 112 mg/dL, hypertension, current smoker with brother with MI at age 54. LDL-C is 163 mg/dL, TG 275 mg/dL, and HDL-C 47 mg/dL. When first seen prior to initiation of any therapy, he had LFTs similar to those reported for the patient in the previous question (approximately two times upper limit of normal [ULN]). The patient is very worried about taking statins due to concerns of liver failure. Which of the following can you tell him? 10 year risk by Framingham Risk Score is >30% and ACC/AHA calculator score is 21.2.

a.Statin use has not been investigated in patients with baseline LFT abnormalities but should be used due to his high risk.

b.Statins have been studied in patients with baseline elevations and have been shown to further increase the LFTs.

c.Elevations of LFTs greater than two times ULN is a contraindication to starting statins.

d.Statin therapy may lower the LFTs in patients with fatty liver infiltration.

e.Progression to liver failure has never been reported.

31.In 2012, the FDA issued an alert reporting a relationship between statin use and increase in blood glucose and new incidence of diabetes. Which of the following statements is TRUE?

1.A large meta-analysis has reported an approximate 18% increase in relative risk of developing diabetes on statin therapy.

2.This observation appears to be dose dependent with a meta-analysis of high- versus moderate-dose trials reporting an absolute increase in rate of 0.4%.

3.Increase in blood glucose with statins does not attenuate the CVD reduction benefit of statins.

4.Development of diabetes on statin therapy is independent of risk factors for diabetes.

5.Reducing the dose of statin should be utilized to avoid diabetes development in those at risk, for example, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and impaired fasting glucose.

a.All of the above

b.1, 3, and 5

c.2 and 3

d.2, 3, and 5

e.None of the above

32.Your patient is a 51-year-old man with heterozygous FH with predrug therapy LDL-C of 202 mg/dL who had been tried on atorvastatin, simvastatin, and lovastatin in the past but stopped all three due to complaints of muscle aching, had gastrointestinal complaints with resins, and refused further treatment. He recently had an ST-segment elevation MI treated with direct stenting. He was given a prescription to start atorvastatin again but was hesitant to have it filled and comes to you for advice. He has increased his frequency of aerobic exercise and has been following a low-saturated fat diet. LDL-C measured 2 months after the MI was 188 mg/dL. Appropriate options to consider in managing this patient include

1.trial of rosuvastatin beginning at 5 mg two to three times a week followed by slow titration.

2.pretreatment with coenzyme Q10 followed by rechallenge with a different statin or lower dose of previously used statin.

3.niacin titrated to highest tolerated dose in combination with ezetimibe.

4.LDL-C apheresis.

5.emphasis on aggressive lifestyle intervention including very low saturated fat to vegetarian diet, plant sterols/stanols, and high dietary and supplementary fiber.


a.All of the above

b.1, 2, 3, and 5

c.1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

d.1, 3, and 5

e.None of the above

33.Statements regarding fibrates include all of the following except that

a.side effects include gastrointestinal complaints, gallstones, and increase in need for cholecystectomy and elevated hepatic transaminase levels.

b.monotherapy trials have not uniformly demonstrated reductions in CVD risk but subanalysis of groups with a metabolic pattern (elevated TG and low HDL) have been more strongly associated with CVD event reduction.

c.although difficult to demonstrate in individual studies, meta-analysis of fibrate trials has demonstrated reduction in cardiovascular mortality on therapy.

d.myopathy has been reported with both monotherapy and combination therapy with statin.

e.increase in creatinine is more common with gemfibrozil compared with fenofibrate.

34.The following statements regarding use of niacin are true except that

a.possible concerns with niacin use include risk of gout, worsening glucose control, and flushing.

b.combination therapy of statins with niacin has been shown to exert favorable effect on some surrogate markers for CVD outcomes.

c.the Coronary Drug Project in the pre-statin era demonstrated a beneficial effect on MI and mortality in secondary prevention patients with coronary disease treated with high-dose niacin.

d.niacin can raise HDL-C from 20% to 25% and lower TGs from 30% to 50% depending on dose and pretreatment TG levels but has little effect on LDL-C. reduce adverse event severity, start niacin at low dose and titrate over weeks, take with a light snack, and take aspirin 30 minutes prior.


1.a. It occurs in 1 in 5,000 persons. Homozygous FH occurs in 1 in 1 million individuals while heterozygous FH in 1 in 500 individuals. The other statements are true.

2.d. LDLRAP1 mediates internalization of LDL-C via clathrin-coated pits, and loss-of-function mutations would decrease LDL-C clearance. Defects in apolipoprotein B (apoB). The LDL-R on the hepatocyte binds to apoB (acts as ligand, binding LDL particle to receptor) on the LDL particle inducing internalization via clathrin-coated pits (mediated by LDLRAP1) and endocytosis of the complex. Defects in the receptor itself or the apoB molecule may reduce LDL-C clearance. The protein PCSK9 can bind to the LDL/LDL-R complex and when internalized prevents recycling of the LDL-R to the hepatocyte surface. A gain in function mutation of PCSK9 (by further reducing recycling of LDL-Rs) has been shown to be associated with increase in LDL-C and CVD.

3.c. Familial combined hyperlipidemia. Familial combined hyperlipidemia is a common dyslipidemia (1 in 33 to 1 in 100 individuals) characterized by complex inheritance. Xanthomas are rarely present (unlike in heterozygous FH), but xanthelasmas and arcus cornea can be seen. They are generally overweight, are hypertensive, and have insulin resistance or diabetes. Affected individuals generally exhibit a TC of 250 to 350 mg/dL, LDL-C of 200 to 300 mg/dL, and TG of >140 mg/dL (two-thirds of patients have TG of 200 to 500 mg/dL). Patients with polygenic hypercholesterolemia (1 in 20 to 1 in 100 individuals) have alterations in the function or expression of several key proteins involved in LDL metabolism including defective LDL-R and apoB100, and the presence of the apoE4 allele (which has a higher affinity for the LDL-R than the other apoE isoforms leading to downregulation of LDL-R). They have similar elevations in LDL-C as familial combined hyperlipidemia except they do not generally have elevated TG. Hyperapobetalipoproteinemia is associated with increased apoB synthesis. TG may be normal or elevated and arcus cornea and xanthelasmas may be present. However, LDL-C is typical below 160 mg/dL. Familial endogenous hypertriglyceridemia is associated with increased hepatic VLDL formation and TG of 200 to 500 mg/dL but without significant elevations in LDL-C and is not consistently linked with increased CVD risk.

4.d. Lomitapide has been approved to treat homozygous and heterozygous FH. Homozygous FH occurs in 1 in 1 million individuals. TC levels are generally >600 mg/dL, with LDL-C levels six- to eightfold higher than average. Without treatment, death from MI occurs in the first or second decades of life. In addition to the xanthomas observed in heterozygotes, FH homozygotes are commonly affected by interdigital xanthomas; tuberous xanthomas on the hands, elbows, buttocks, and feet; and planar xanthomas on the posterior thighs, buttocks, and knees. The mainstay of therapy for FH homozygotes is LDL apheresis and has been associated with stabilization or regression of atherosclerotic lesions and improvement in symptoms. Since immediate reductions in LDL-C of 50% to 80% rebound quickly, the process is performed every 2 to 4 weeks to keep intrapheresis LDL-C ≤120 mg/dL.

Both mipomersen and lomitapide were FDA approved in 2013 as orphan drugs for management of patients with homozygous FH only. Mipomersen is a subcutaneously injectable RNA antisense oligonucleotide. Lomitapide blocks microsomal TG transport protein (a key protein in assembly and secretion of apoB-containing lipoproteins in the liver and intestines) reducing hepatic secretion of VLDL. These therapies have a small target population, require risk evaluation and mitigation strategy limiting use to specialized centers, and have concerns with liver toxicity and hepatic steatosis due to accumulation of TGs not secreted into VLDL.

Several clinical diagnostic criteria for FH exist, with the 15-year Simon Broome Register Group being the most commonly used. Definite FH is as defined above. Possible FH by this criteria is defined as (a) above PLUS and (b) MI before age 50 in second-degree relative, or before 60 in first-degree relative or elevated cholesterol in first-degree relative, or >290 mg/dL in second-degree relative.

5.d. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data through 2006 reported that 10.3% of adolescents (12 to 19 years) have abnormal lipid levels. In adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19, the number of individuals with one or more abnormal lipid level is higher at 20.3% and increases further to 42.9% in association with obesity. All the other facts noted are true. The AHA has established TC <170 mg/dL in children and <200 mg/dL in adults as one of seven goals for ideal cardiovascular health. In one survey in 2010, 38.1% of children and 52.7% of adults did not meet these criteria. Although average adult TC levels have been dropping over the past two decades from 208 to 197 mg/dL, obesity and lack of physical activity (two factors associated with dyslipidemia and diabetes risk) have been on the rise. From 2011 to 2012 only 20.7% of adults and 49.5% of adolescents, respectively, achieved recommended activity levels. These facts and more can be found in the most recent Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2014 Update from the AHA published in Circulation.

6.b. The JUPITER trial demonstrated that in individuals without documented cardiovascular disease (CVD) and median LDL-C of 108 mg/dL, aggressive statin therapy with rosuvastatin offered greater benefit in individuals with ultrasensitive C-reactive protein (usCRP) >2 versus <2 mg/L. JUPITER demonstrated that primary prevention patients with only modest elevations in LDL-C but elevated usCRP above 2 mg/L benefited from treatment with statins. However, the trial only enrolled individuals with usCRP >2 mg/L. There was no comparison arm to individuals with low LDL-C and low usCRP. While ASCOT-LLA showed reductions in nonfatal MI and CHD death, coronary events or procedures, stroke, and chronic stable angina, but did not show a reduction in total mortality. However, this trial did demonstrate that initiation of moderate intensity statin therapy in higher-risk individuals without clinical CVD and without significant elevations in LDL-C significantly reduced CVD events. The study with average LDL-C at entry of 130 mg/dL was stopped early by the safety monitoring board. Primary prevention trials WOSCOPS and AFCAPS/TexCAPS and secondary prevention trials including 4S, CARE, PIPID, and Heart Protection Study (HPS) across a wide range of pretreatment LDL-C and using various statins demonstrated approximately 1% reduction in CVD events for every 1% reduction in LDL-C.

7.b. 1, 3, and 5. In making treatment decisions regarding initiation and intensity of treatment for dyslipidemia in patients without documented CVD or diabetes, assessment of future risk of CVD development is important. In individuals with two or more standard cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, family history, low HDL-C, and smoking), the FRS can be used to calculate 10-year risk of MI or coronary disease mortality. The calculator is based on assessment of TC (or LDL-C), HDL-C, hypertension history, age, and smoking stratified by gender. It does not incorporate family history, assessment of metabolic syndrome, or other nontraditional risk markers such as usCRP, lipoprotein(a), and CACS. Risk may be underestimated in younger individuals and data may not be transferable to ethnic groups not well represented in the cohort. Other risk assessment tools include some of these additional risk markers such as the Reynolds Risk Score (usCRP and family history), PROCAM (prospective cardiovascular Münster heart study) Score (TG and family history), and SHAPE (Screening for heart attack prevention and education) guidelines (carotid intimal medial thickness [CIMT] and CACS). The recent 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk in adults has promoted a new Pooled Cohort Equations risk calculator that incorporates race into the calculation and stroke as an outcome event.

8.c. HDL-C of <40 mg/dL in men and women. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by abdominal obesity, an atherogenic dyslipidemia with elevated TG, increased number of small LDL particles, low HDL-C, elevated BP, insulin resistance (glucose intolerance), a prothrombotic state, and a proinflammatory state. There is an increased risk of CVD development of two- to fourfold in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Focus of treatment should be on intensive lifestyle intervention. In the NCEP ATP III recommendations for diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, cutoffs for HDL-C are <40 mg/dL in men but <50 mg/dL in women. The other criteria listed are correct. Modifications since initial publication include lowering the fasting glucose cutoff to 100 mg/dL and population-specific waist circumferences such as ≥90 cm in men and ≥80 cm in women of South Asian ancestry. Metabolic syndrome is present if three or more of these criteria are identified.

9.e. Both higher-dose statins and addition of fibrates and niacin to achieve non-HDL-C goals should be considered to achieve secondary targets and to further reduce cardiovascular event rate. Between NCEP ATP III in 2001 and the update in 2004, multiple randomized controlled clinical trials offered new information supporting more aggressive treatment of hyperlipidemia and led to lowering the treatment goals and pretreatment LDL-C cutoffs for treatment in high- and intermediate-risk individuals (Table 12.1). The HPS demonstrated statin benefit in high-risk patients even with low pretreatment LDL-C. The ASCOTT LLA and Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study (CARDS) trials showed benefit when treating high-risk primary prevention patients with hypertension or DM even if LDL-C was not significantly elevated. Studies such as Treat to New Targets (TNT) and PROVE-IT TIMI-22 demonstrated that increasing the intensity of LDL-C lowering using higher doses or more potent statins in secondary prevention populations was associated with incremental cardiovascular risk reduction. The guidelines recommend that in treating individuals with hyperlipidemia the first priority of treatment is to lower LDL-C; the first line of drug therapy to manage LDL-C is statin therapy and intensity of therapy should be selected to achieve at least a 30% to 40% LDL reduction. Intensity of therapy and LDL-C goals should be based on level of CVD risk. Although NCEP ATP III recommended non-HDL-C (TC minus HDL-C) as a secondary therapeutic goal after achieving LDL-C goals and considering addition of niacin and fibrates to achieve this goal, this has not yet been definitively shown in clinical trials to reduce adverse cardiovascular events when added to adequate statin therapy.

10.e. Non–HDL-C goal equals the LDL-C goal +30 mg/dL. Although the ADA, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), and the AHA/ACC women’s preventive guidelines set specific goals for TG below 150 mg/dL and HDL-C >50/40 mg/dL in women/men, NCEP ATP III guidelines do not and instead focus on non–HDL-C targets. The primary target for therapy is LDL-C reduction and statins remain the primary therapy for reducing LDL-C. However, in individuals with TGs >500 mg/dL initial therapy with aggressive diet and lifestyle intervention and medications should be first addressed. Non–HDL-C is recommended as a secondary target after achieving LDL-C goals if TG are greater than 200 mg/dL with therapeutic options to lower non–HDL-C including more intense LDL-C lowering or addition of niacin, fibrates, or high-dose omega-3 fish oils. Bile acid sequestrants should be avoided in individuals with TG over 300 mg/dL. NCEP ATP III recognizes a role for HDL-C as an important determinant of risk and if low a reason to achieve LDL-C and non–HDL-C goals as well as cause to emphasize diet and exercise. Although specific treatment to raise HDL-C may be considered in very high-risk individuals, the best therapies to accomplish this are not known and clinical trials documenting CVD risk reduction with HDL-C–directed therapies are lacking. An appropriate approach to HDL-C management is lifestyle. Dietary changes are associated with a 3% to 15% increase in HDL-C with an average 0.35 mg/dL increase in HDL for each 1 kg of weight loss. About 120 to 180 minutes of aerobic exercise a week and discontinuation of smoking can each raise HDL-C by 5% to 10%.

11.d. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements of 800 to 1,000 mg a day. Diets high in omega-3 saturated fat are recommended but universal use of supplements is not. The AHA recommends 800 to 1,000 mg/day in dietary consumption and to consider supplements in secondary prevention patients without an adequate dietary source. Omega-3 fatty acids have a role in managing high TGs (>500 mg/day) by using high doses of prescription or supplement forms at 2,000 to 4,000 mg/day. Long-term outcome data supporting definitive reduction in CVD events with omega-3 supplementation in primary prevention populations are lacking. All of the other recommendations listed are supported by the guidelines.

12.a. Hyperthyroidism. Identifying and treatment of or modifying secondary causes of dyslipidemia is an important component in the management of dyslipidemia. Treating hypothyroidism and better control of diabetes may have significant impact on correcting lipid abnormalities. If possible, identification of medications associated with dyslipidemia and substitution of alternate medications when possible may help. Cholesterol and TGs rise progressively throughout pregnancy. Drugs such as statins, niacin, and ezetimibe are contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation.

13.b. FRS indicating a 10-year risk of MI or coronary death of >10%. Any clinically significant non-coronary vascular diseases such as peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease, and aortic disease would qualify. Diabetics also fall into this category, particularly those >40 years of age and with at least one additional CVD risk factor. CHD risk equivalent status is present in individuals without clinically evident CHD, other CVD, or diabetes but with two or more CVD risk factors and FRS associated with a 10-year risk of a fatal or nonfatal MI of >20% not >10%. All of these individuals would be candidates for aggressive lipid management. The NCEP ATP III guidelines recommend LDL-C goals <100 mg/dL and optional LDL-C goals <70 mg/dL in this group. The ACC/AHA 2013 hyperlipidemia guidelines have eliminated LDL-C goals for therapy and recommend high-intensity statin therapy to achieve LDL-C lowering of >50% in high-risk groups <75 years old. This includes individuals with coronary and non- coronary disease, diabetics with new Pooled Cohort Equation calculator risk of >7.5% 10-year risk.

14.a. LDL <70 mg/dL and non-HDL <100.

15.f. Answers a and d.

16.a. Atorvastatin 40 mg/day. Patients with diabetes are CHD risk equivalent patients and therefore at high cardiovascular risk and candidates for aggressive lipid-lowering therapy. The NCEP ATP III update in 2004, ACC/ADA consensus statement in 2008, and the ADA and AAACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) guidelines in 2013 all support a primary LDL-C goal of <70 mg/dL and secondary non–HDL-C goal of <100 mg/dL. In addition, the consensus statement and recent ADA/AACE guidelines recommend considering apoB of <80 mg/dL and LDL-P of <1,000 as secondary targets for therapy. usCRP is a marker for CVD risk and reduced by many therapies including statins and lifestyle interventions but is not a recognized specific target or therapeutic goal (Tables 12.2 and 12.3).

The first-line therapy is statins, at a dose needed to achieve LDL-C reductions of at least 30% to 40%. Only atorvastatin 40 mg/day would achieve recommended treatment goals. Simvastatin at this dose is unlikely to result in sufficient LDL-C reduction to achieve goals and since the FDA alert in 2011, doses higher than 20 mg are not recommended in combination with amlodipine. Monotherapy with ezetimibe generally lowers LDL-C <20% and outcome benefit has not been demonstrated. Although LDL-C is not significantly elevated and the TG and HDL-C abnormalities may be improved by the other listed therapies, statins remain the primary treatment choice, supported by beneficial outcome data in trials such as CARDS and diabetic subsets in other large prospective trials and meta-analyses. Outcome data regarding cardiovascular risk reduction with these other listed therapies are lacking or less robust. New lipid treatment guidelines from the ACC/AHA published in November 2013 recommend a different approach to the management of lipids. These new guidelines support therapy initiation and intensity dependent on the level of risk and they recognize that most patients with diabetes are candidates for high-intensity statin therapy (defined as a statin able to achieve >50% reduction in LDL-C, e.g., 40 to 80 mg of atorvastatin or 20 to 40 mg of rosuvastatin).

17.f. All of the above. On statin therapy, the LDL-C goal of <70 mg/dL has been achieved but non–HDL-C remains above an ideal goal of <100 mg/dL. Any of these therapies would help to achieve the secondary non–HDL-C goals. NCEP ATP III recommends intensification of statins, further LDL-C lowering with non-statin therapies, niacin, or fibrates to achieve secondary non–HDL-C goal. There are clinical trial data to support further risk reduction with intensification of statin therapy although outcome data are absent when niacin, fibrates, fish oil, or ezetimibe is added to adequate statin therapy. Intensification of lifestyle interventions should be a part of any pharmacologic intervention in this patient. The patient is on a high-intensity statin with <50% reduction in LDL-C. Based on new ACC/AHA 2013 guidelines for management of hyperlipidemia, there is insufficient RTC evidence that adding additional therapies will further reduce cardiovascular events. Intensification of statin therapy does appear to offer benefit. In individuals receiving maximum tolerated intensity of statin with less than anticipated therapeutic response and in high-risk groups, the addition of non-statin therapy may be considered if the CVD risk reduction benefits outweigh the adverse effects.

18.c. NHANES data from 2010 indicate that although goals of HbA1c <7 mg/dL, systolic BP <130 mmHg, and LDL-C <100 mg/dL are recommended for diabetics, only 32% of diabetics in the survey currently achieve all three of these goals. The NHANES survey in 2010 demonstrated that although greater than 50% of diabetic patients achieved LDL <100 mg/dL, systolic BP <130 mmHg, or HbA1c <7 mg/dL, only <20% achieved all three goals. Studies such as the East-West study in 1998 demonstrated that a diabetic without CHD history had a similar approximate 20% incidence of MI over 7 years compared with a nondiabetic with known previous MI. Diabetics have a two- to fourfold increased risk of CVD events and the majority of deaths in patients with diabetes are due to CVD, accounting for up to 75% of deaths. These observations emphasize the concept of diabetes as a CHD equivalent and a rationale for intensive therapy of hyperlipidemia.

19.d. HDL particle size and number. usCRP has been shown in studies such as the Women’s Health Study (WHS) to reclassify risk when added to the FRS and in the JUPITER trial to be a factor in determining benefit of early statin therapy for primary prevention of CVD. Similar reclassification of risk has been demonstrated with anatomic measurements for preclinical atherosclerosis such as CACS and CIMT. Post hoc analyses of studies such as the WHS and MESA (multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis) have demonstrated LDL-P to be a better predictor of future cardiovascular risk, and the National Lipid Association has recommended it as a tool for further risk assessment. However, data supporting the benefit and use of HDL particle size and number in assessing risk and guiding treatment are absent. NCEP ATP III recommends that intermediate-risk patients (FRS 10% to 20% estimated 10-year risk) with these additional risk markers should be considered for more intensive therapies. The ACC/AHA hyperlipidemia guidelines in 2013 suggest that in selected individuals, particularly those with a 10-year CVD risk of 5% to 7.5% not falling into defined treatment groups for high- or moderate-intensity statin therapy, factors including LDL-C >160 mg/dL, family history of premature CVD, usCRP >2 mg/dL, CACS >300 Agatston units or >75th percentile for age/sex/ethnicity, and ankle brachial index <0.9 may be used to consider initiation or intensification of pharmacologic therapy.

20.a. None, all are true. The ACC/AHA 2013 guidelines have attempted to offer recommendations based on a balance of benefit and therapeutic risk of treatment strategies as supported whenever possible by RTCs. The guidelines are based on observations including the absolute benefit in CVD risk reduction is proportional to baseline risk; cholesterol-lowering medications used in clinical trials (particularly statins) reduce risk of cardiovascular events proportional to the intensity of stain therapy rather than LDL-C achieved and therefore more intensive statin therapy could reduce risk more than moderate- or lower-intensity statin therapy; and statins are associated with similar relative risk reductions for CVD events across the majority of patient groups studied, and little clinical trial evidence to support use of other non-statin therapies particularly when added to treatment with statins. Therefore, in these guidelines a greater degree of emphasis is placed on level of treatment with statins and less on other lipid-lowering therapies either alone or in combination with statins. Patients or groups at higher baseline absolute risk will derive greater absolute benefit from initiation of statin therapy over a period of 5 to 10 years as studied in clinical trials. Like the NCEP ATP III recommendations, intensity of therapy is based on a measure of level of CVD risk but defined as dose or potency of statin therapy to be used rather than titration to specific LDL-C and non–HDL-C goals. Both sets of guidelines recommend statin therapy as primary and most beneficial therapy for CVD risk reduction although the ACC/AHA recommendations deemphasize the use of add-on non-statin therapies in the absence of RCT data and balance the risk of pharmacologic therapies in lower-risk populations. The ACC/AHA guidelines position treatment of TGs and use of non–HDL-C in treatment decision making as future clinical questions to be addressed and updated after future clinical trials. It should be mentioned that since these guidelines have appeared many have offered criticism of the document, including the elimination of LDL-C targets and concern with use of a new risk assessment tool that has not been prospectively validated, may overexpand treatment of lower-risk populations, and delay treatment in other high-risk populations. It should be remembered that these are guidelines and not doctrine and individual treatment plans should be tailored to the individual patient’s risk and needs after carefully assessing side effects and risk of treatment and discussion with the patient.

21.b. Primary elevations of LDL-C ≥160 mg/dL. In these recommendations, LDL-C would need to be above 190 mg/dL to be considered for high-intensity statin therapy (Table 12.4). Clinical ASCVD is defined as acute coronary syndromes, a history of MI, stable or unstable angina, coronary or other arterial revascularization, stroke, TIA, or peripheral arterial disease of atherosclerotic origin. It is recommended that the absolute 10-year ASCVD risk (defined as nonfatal MI, CHD death, and including nonfatal and fatal stroke) should be used to guide the initiation and intensity of statin therapy and should be estimated using the Pooled Cohort Equations for the primary prevention of ASCVD in individuals without clinical ASCVD and LDL-C 70 to 189 mg/dL and to determine intensity of therapy in diabetics (DM types 1 and 2). For those with clinical ASCVD or with LDL-C ≥190 mg/dL who are already in a statin benefit group, it is not appropriate to estimate 10-year ASCVD risk. In individuals over 75 years of age falling into these groups or diabetics with 10-year risk <7.5%, consider moderate-intensity therapy to reduce possible side effects.

22.c. Bile acid sequestrants as initial therapy in younger patients under 16 years of age. The AAP recommends screening beginning as early as 2 years of age and before age 10 in children with family history of hyperlipidemia or premature CVD in parents and grandparents or if family history is not known and other risk factors (overweight, obese, hypertension, smoking, and DM) are present. They now recommend considering pharmacologic treatment with statins as the first choice drug rather than resins and consider beginning pharmacologic therapy as early as 8 years of age if after lifestyle intervention LDL-C remains >190 mg/dL, >160 mg/dL with one or more other cardiovascular risk factors (including obesity), or >130 mg/dL if diabetes is present.

23.c. 4 and 6. Child and Adolescent Trial for CV Health reported that 13.3% of fourth graders had TC >200. NHANES 2010 notes that approximately 8% of adolescents have TC >200. A population approach including weight maintenance, healthy diet, and exercise is recommended for all children. An individual approach to therapy is reserved for those at higher risk for CVD and with elevated LDL-C levels as summarized in the previous question. Other high-risk children and adolescents for whom earlier pharmacologic therapy may be considered include post transplantation, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chronic inflammatory disease such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, renal disease (nephrotic syndrome), Kawasaki disease, overweight/obese with metabolic syndrome, and childhood cancer survivors. Statins have not been shown to delay or adversely affect physical and sexual development. Cholesterol levels may drop significantly during pubertal development. Therefore, screening before or after is most representative. Studies in ages 7 months to adolescents have shown safety of low total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol diets and initiation of low-fat diet is recommended after age 2 years. Benefits of statin treatment on the atherosclerotic process have been demonstrated in children using surrogate markers such as flow-mediated dilatation and CIMT. However, the impact on clinical outcomes has not been studied in large prospective trials. Since there are little outcome data to show that treatment in childhood decreases adult CVD, treatment recommendations are based on extrapolations from adult studies.

24.d. The ACCORD trial demonstrated a benefit of fenofibrate when added to baseline simvastatin therapy in diabetic patients. Observational studies support that for every 1 mg/dL increase in HDL-C, there is a 2% to 3% decrease in CVD risk. The Framingham Heart Study recognized that the lower the level of HDL-C, the greater the risk of a coronary event, regardless of LDL-C level. In fact, a person with a “desirable” LDL-C of 100 mg/dL but a low HDL-C of 25 mg/dL had the same risk of a cardiac event as a person with an LDL-C of 220 mg/dL and an HDL-C of 45 mg/dL. Further strengthening the link between HDL-C and TG and poor CVD outcomes is the observation that patients presenting with a new diagnosis of CHD have higher TGs and lower HDL-C than those without CHD. In the TNT trial, this relationship continued to exist even following aggressive statin therapy. When a subgroup of individuals all achieving LDL-C below 70 mg/dL was examined, CVD events increased significantly when HDL-C was below 42 mg/dL even in this group with very low LDL-C levels. A meta-analysis in 2010 of multiple statin trials reported that the inverse relationship of HDL-C to CVD events was not altered by statin therapy. Meta-analyses have shown a relationship between elevations of TG and CVD risk even when controlling for confounding factors and HDL-C. In the treatment arms of statin placebo-controlled studies and even when including those in which very low LDL-C levels are achieved, a significant residual CVD risk persists. NHANES reports that of the 48% of U.S. adults with dyslipidemia approximately a third have elevations in TGs and/or HDL-C. With the growing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, inactivity, and metabolic syndrome more individuals are presenting with a combined dyslipidemia characterized by only moderate elevation of LDL-C but increased numbers of small dense LDL and other atherogenic apoB particles, elevated TGs, and low high density HDL-C. Particularly in these groups it is reasonable to hypothesize that therapies beyond LDL-C lowering may be beneficial. Evidence supports titration of statin to higher doses or use of more potent statins to achieve greater risk reduction. However, data from long-term outcome studies demonstrating incremental benefit when therapy directed toward low HDL-C and TG is added to statins have been disappointing. The AIM-HIGH (Atherothrombosis Intervention in Metabolic Syndrome with Low HDL/High Triglycerides: Impact on Global Health) trial and HPS-THRIVE (Treatment of HDL to Reduce the Incidence of Vascular Events) did not demonstrate improved outcomes when niacin preparations were added to individuals with well-controlled LDL-C on statin ± ezetimibe (LDL-C prerandomization of 74 and 63, respectively). The ACCORD trial did not demonstrate benefit when fenofibrate was added to baseline statin therapy in the total population of diabetics studied. A prospectively defined but subanalysis noted a borderline statistically significant 31% CVD event reduction in a subgroup with TG above 204 mg/dL and HDL-C below 34 mg/dL. However, until further studies are available there still may remain a role for niacin, fibrates, or ezetimibe in the management of elevated non-HDL after maximally tolerated statin therapy, those not at LDL-C goal after maximally tolerated statin therapy, or those intolerant to statins. The NCEP ATP III, ADA, and ACCE guidelines do recommend considering therapies including niacin and fibrates to achieve non–HDL-C goals after treating LDL-C. The AHA/ACC 2013 guidelines are less enthusiastic regarding the addition of non-statin therapies. Also note that other recommendations still recommend treatment targets and utilization of non-statin therapies in certain populations.

25.b. ATP-binding cassette transporter 1 (ABCA1) and ABCG1 both facilitate free cholesterol efflux to lipid-poor pre-β1-HDL. There are many proposed mechanisms offered to explain the beneficial anti-atherosclerotic activity of HDL-C including increase in nitric oxide production and enhanced endothelial function, inhibition of LDL-C oxidation, reduction of cytokine-induced endothelial vascular cell adhesion molecule induction and macrophage infiltration, as well as anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic (including reduction of platelet activation/ aggregation, activation of protein C–mediated anticoagulant effects, and stimulation of fibrinolysis), and antioxidant effects. However, reverse cholesterol transport, the transfer of cholesterol from the peripheral tissues to the liver for excretion in the feces or bile, appears to offer the greatest cardioprotective role. The mature α-HDL particles are generated from lipid-free apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1) or lipid-poor pre–β1-HDL as the precursors are produced by the liver or intestine, released from lipolyzed VLDL and chylomicrons or released by interconversion of mature HDL particles. ABCA1 facilitates efflux of cholesterol from cells and initial lipidation of these precursors. Lipid efflux to more mature HDL particles also occur via ABCG1-mediated transfer. Enzymatic modification with lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) enables esterification of cholesterol and generates spherical particles that continue to grow with ongoing cholesterol esterification. The larger mature HDL particles are converted into smaller HDL particles via CETP-enabled exchange of cholesterol esters for TGs between HDL and apoB-containing lipoproteins (LDL and VLDL) and scavenger receptor class-B type 1 (SR-B1) selective uptake of cholesteryl esters into liver and steroidogenic organs. HDL can deliver cholesterol to the liver via the SR-B1 receptor or by holoparticle uptake (direct reverse cholesterol transport). It may also dispose of cholesterol via CETP-mediated transfer of cholesterol esters to LDL and VLDL and removal through normal clearance by hepatic LDL-Rs (indirect reverse cholesterol transport).

Studies in atherogenic animals show that raising HDL-C via genetic modification, infusion of HDL has favorable effects on experimental plague size and structure and reports of the ability of apoA1 Milano infusion therapy to reduce IVUS measured atherosclerotic plaque volume over a short period of 6 weeks in individuals following MI rekindled the interest in newer HDL-directed therapies. This raised hopes that synthetic forms of HDL, HDL mimetics, reconstituted HDL, reinfusion of delipidated HDL, and other therapies designed to increase HDL-C would be potential therapeutic approaches to reduce CVD. Upregulation of liver X receptor (LXR), the nuclear receptor that protects cells from cholesterol toxicity, may be of benefit by resulting in the cellular transduction of the ATP-binding cassette sterol transporters that efflux free cholesterol into either nascent HDL or mature HDL. Enhancing LCAT activity increases the esterification of cholesterol in HDL, resulting in HDL maturation. Modifying the holoparticle uptake of HDL (a possible mechanism of niacin) may delay catabolism by allowing the HDL particle to continue circulating and potentially increase reverse cholesterol transport. Genetic and pharmacologic studies in mice suggest that overexpression of apoA1 and SR-B1 or LXR agonists may be beneficial. Unfortunately methodology, delivery concerns, and off-target adverse effects have so far limited the use of these therapeutic approaches in humans. Despite many new possible therapeutic strategies only inhibiting CETP which increases HDL particle size and delays catabolism of HDL is currently under active clinical phase 3 trial investigations. Two previous studies with CETP inhibitors (which raise HDL-C anywhere from 30% to 140%) were stopped early for adverse events with torcetrapib or lack of benefit/futility with dalcetrapib, but ongoing outcome trials with the more potent anacetrapib and evacetrapib continue.

26.c. Renal insufficiency. Statins have not been shown to worsen renal function. There was concern raised when proteinuria was noted in clinical trials with rosuvastatin. However, in analyses of RCTs, creatinine has not been shown to worsen and may improve. The other adverse effects listed above have all been noted with statins. In a meta-analysis by Naci et al. in 2013 comparing statins to placebo, the odds ratio for elevation in LFTs was 1.51, diabetes development 1.09, myalgia 1.07, CPK abnormality 1.13, and cancer 0.96, statistically significant only for liver test abnormalities and diabetes. Concerns have been raised about memory loss but there is a lack of large prospective trials designed to address this question and limited. A recent report in fact suggests a reduction in dementia with statin therapy.

27.d. Myalgia symptoms reported in prescribing information range from 5% to 10%. Definitions specified by the ACC/AHA NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) 2002 Clinical Advisory offer the following terminology to describe muscle injury: myalgias (muscle ache/weakness without CPK elevation), myopathy (muscle symptoms with CPK levels more than 10 times ULN), rhabdomyolysis (muscle symptoms with marked CPK elevation typically more than 10 times ULN with creatinine elevation and often with urinary myoglobin). Myalgia is reported in prescribing information at 1.2% to 3.2% but up to 11% in registries. Myopathy occurs in 0.1% to 0.5% of patients in a dose-dependent fashion. Fortunately, the risk of rhabdomyolysis is quite rare and reported <0.1%. Meta-analysis has reported rates of 0.03% to 0.05%. Muscle symptoms are more likely to occur at higher doses and doses should not exceed those recommended to achieve treatment goals. Attention should be paid to factors that may increase risk for myopathy. Concomitant medications such as fibrates, nicotinic acid (rarely), cyclosporine, azole antifungals, itraconazole, ketoconazole, macrolide antibiotics, erythromycin, clarithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, nefazodone (antidepressant), verapamil, amiodarone, large quantities of grapefruit juice (>1 qt/day), and alcohol abuse may increase drug exposure and increase myopathy risk. This may be particularly true for simvastatin (metabolized via CYP3A) prompting an FDA advisory not to exceed 40 mg dose in general and reduce dose to 10 to 20 mg with concomitant use of drugs such as high-dose niacin, verapamil, ranolazine, and amiodarone. Other factors contributing to a higher likelihood of muscle symptoms include advanced age (especially >80 years; women more than men), small body frame, frailty, multisystem disease (e.g., chronic renal insufficiency, especially due to diabetes), and perioperative periods.

28.b. No. Routine measurement of CPK on statin therapy is not recommended but it is reasonable to obtain at baseline prior to therapy in individuals at higher risk for myopathy and if new symptoms develop on treatment. When a patient presents with complaints of pain, tenderness, stiffness, cramping, weakness, or fatigue the first approach should be to document the severity of the symptoms, obtain CPK, creatinine, and urinalysis to exclude rhabdomyolysis, and search for other causes (such as hypothyroidism, rheumatologic disorders, vitamin D deficiency, and steroid use). If there are clinical signs of severe pain, new muscle weakness, CPK greater than 10 times ULN, or myoglobinuria the statin should be stopped. If symptoms are mild to moderate and CPK is less than three times ULN it is reasonable to hold the statin until symptoms can be evaluated. If symptoms resolve rechallenge with the same or lower dose of the statin to establish whether a causal relationship exists. If so starting a low dose of a different statin is reasonable followed by slow titration. If an asymptomatic individual on statin therapy has an elevated CPK, complete a thorough muscular examination and if unremarkable check for other causes. If greater than 10 times ULN, hold statin and evaluate for other primary or secondary myopathies. If a baseline CPK is known to be elevated prior to therapy, it is not an absolute contraindication to initiate statin therapy if less than three times ULN and asymptomatic. If higher, a search for other causes such as hypothyroidism, recent injury, and other myopathies would be prudent before initiating therapy with a statin and consideration of referral to a rheumatologist for further evaluation.

29.c. Statins have been shown to worsen the outcome in persons with chronic transaminase elevations due to hepatitis B or C. Dose-related elevation in AST or ALT has been reported between 0.1% and 2%. Statins have not been shown to worsen the outcome in persons with chronic transaminase elevations due to hepatitis B or C. A search for other causes of LFT elevations is essential including review of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements, recent infections, and alcohol use. In this patient with LFT less than three times ULN, it is reasonable to repeat in 6 to 12 weeks on the same or a lower dose. If LFTs greater than three times ULN repeat in 2 weeks and if continued elevation stop statin, recheck in 2 to 4 weeks and if improving consider rechallenge with a lower-dose or different statin. Reversal of transaminase elevation is frequently noted with a reduction in statin dose, and elevations do not often recur with either readministration or selection of another statins.

30.d. Statin therapy may lower LFTs in patients with fatty liver infiltration. Prior to initiation of statin therapy it is reasonable to exclude other causes for LFT elevation. However, there are small studies supporting the safety of use in appropriate patients. Kiyici et al. examined 44 patients with biopsy-proven NASH (nonacoholic steatosis) and found that on atorvastatin 10 mg for 6 months there was a decrease in cholesterol, AST, ALT, AP (alkaline phosphatase), and GGT (gammaglutaryl transferase). Chalasani et al. examined the effect of statins over 6 months in patients with baseline moderate elevations in LFTs. In patients with normal LFTs placed on statin, the incidence of mild/moderate or severe elevation in LFTs was 1.9% and 0.2%, respectively, in those with baseline elevations placed on statin (4.7% and 0.6%) compared with those not placed on statin (6.4% and 0.4%). Progression to liver failure due to statins is not zero but exceedingly rare reported at 0.02 to 0.07 per million treated. In this patient, an ultrasound of the liver confirmed fatty infiltration. Manufacturer’s prescribing information lists unexplained ALT greater than three times ULN as a contraindication to statin therapy. The best approach is to counsel on a diet program low in sugar and carbohydrates, weight loss, and exercise, and start statin therapy following the LFTs more closely.

31.c. 2 and 3. Sattar in a meta-analysis of 13 statin trials in 91,140 patients noted that 4,278 developed DM (4.89% on statins versus 4.5% on placebo; 0.39% absolute increased difference and 9% relative risk of incident diabetes). This represented 1 additional case of DM per 1,000 patient-years. Preiss published a meta-analysis of 5 trials in 32,772 patients comparing high- versus moderate-dose statins and reported 2,749 developed DM (8.8% versus 8.4% or an absolute increase of 0.4%). There were two additional cases of DM (18.9 versus 16.9) per 1,000 patient-years of follow-up. The development of diabetes did not appear to reduce the benefits of treatment. Sattar found 5.4 less cardiac events for 255 patients treated over 4 years for each 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL-C compared with 1 extra case of diabetes for the same time period. Preiss noted 1 additional case of diabetes for every 498 patients over 1 year compared with 1 fewer CVD event for every 155 patients over 1 year. In a separate analysis of three high-dose atorvastatin trials, Waters et al. reported no difference in CVD events occurring in 11.3% with new DM and 10.8% without new DM. This compared with those with diabetes at baseline (10.1% versus 17.5%). The FDA reported this association in February 2012 but added that it does not appear to reduce the benefits of statin therapy in appropriately selected patients. Therefore, statin therapy should not be denied or appropriate doses reduced to avoid diabetes. However, since the individuals that developed diabetes are those at risk for diabetes it is prudent to measure for glycemic control more frequently and emphasize lifestyle interventions to reduce diabetes risk. This approach has been supported in the ACC/AHA 2013 guidelines.

32.b. 1, 2, 3, and 5. This patient is at very high risk for recurrent events. Since the greatest reduction in CVD events has been demonstrated with statins, further attempts to rechallenge with statins are appropriate. Small clinical trials and observational studies have shown that tolerance may be improved by trying multiple alternate statins, often using a potent statin beginning at low and intermittent rather than daily dosing with slow titration. Small investigations of coenzyme Q10 appear to lower the incidence of muscle complaints when added to statins. An analysis of patients referred to the Cleveland Clinic for intolerance to statins (the majority due to muscle complaints) revealed that over two-thirds of patients were able to tolerate some statin regimen with average LDL-C reduction of ~28% in those able to tolerate daily dosing. Niacin in high doses has been shown in the Coronary Drug Project to reduce recurrent MI and mortality after MI and is a reasonable component of a combination therapy program in patients resistant to all statins. Both LDL-C apheresis and mipomersen can lower LDL-C but with LDL-C levels in this range he would not meet the FDA recommendation for apheresis and although trials with mipomersen have been shown to be effective in both homozygous and heterozygous FH patients it is only currently approved for homozygotes.

33.c. Although difficult to demonstrate in individual studies, meta-analysis of fibrate trials has demonstrated reduction in cardiovascular mortality on therapy. An increase in myopathy has been reported with both gemfibrozil and fenofibrate as monotherapy but to a greater extent when added to statins (5.5-fold increased risk of myopathy when combined with statins) and more so with gemfibrozil compared with fenofibrate. A meta-analysis of monotherapy fibrate trials published in 2007 in the American Heart Journal reported a reduction in nonfatal MI but no reduction in fatal MI or total/cardiovascular mortality. Subanalyses of individuals with a metabolic dyslipidemia in fibrate trials such as BIP (bezafibrate infarction prevention), FIELD (fenofibrate intervention and event lowering in diabetes), and ACCORD trials demonstrated significant reduction in the primary endpoint of combined cardiovascular events, although not in the overall populations studied. Renal status should be evaluated within 3 months of initiation of therapy and every 6 months thereafter. Plasma half-life of fenofibric acid is prolonged in renal insufficiency and requires lower dose with glomerular filtration rate (GFR) 30 to 59 and avoidance if GFR <30. An increase in creatinine of 12% was reported in the FIELD study using fenofibrate, usually reversible with discontinuation of therapy.

34.d. Niacin can raise HDL-C from 20% to 25% and lower TGs from 30% to 50% depending on the dose and pretreatment TG levels but has little effect on LDL-C. Flushing and skin reactions are the most common reasons limiting niacin use. Gout episodes are more common in individuals with a prior history of gout. A small increase in blood glucose levels and HbA1c has been reported but is generally not of clinical significance and manageable with adjustments in glucose-lowering therapies. Baseline LFTs, fasting glucose, or HBA1c and uric acid should be obtained prior to therapy. While studies have suggested a benefit on surrogate markers for CVD events such as CIMT in the Arterial Biology for the Investigation of the Treatment Effects of Reducing Cholesterol (ARBITER) trials, there are currently no large longitudinal controlled trials demonstrating incremental benefit on clinical events when niacin is added to adequate statin therapy. Results of the AIM-HIGH and HPS-THRIVE were reviewed in Question 25. Niacin has a beneficial effect on multiple components of the lipid panel including a 20% to 35% increase in HDL-C, up to 20% lowering of LDL-C, and up to 30% to 50% reduction in TG. The Coronary Drug Project, initiated in the late 1960s, was a large secondary prevention study among men with several treatment arms, one of which utilized up to 3 g/day of niacin (Table 12.5). Compared with placebo, niacin lowered TC by 10% and TG by 26% (although HDL-C data not available) and after 6 years, significantly reduced nonfatal MI by 27%. A 15-year follow-up analysis (9 years after the interventions had ended) revealed a significant 11% decrease (p <0.004) in total mortality. Further analysis has demonstrated equivalent reductions in CVD risk regardless of entry fasting glucose level, presence or absence of diabetes at entry, or change in fasting glucose while on therapy.


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