To test the potency of low-dose cholesterol-lowering drug therapy in patients with moderate hypercholesterolemia and to evaluate the effectiveness for cholesterol lowering of a safe regimen to be used in primary prevention of coronary heart disease.
The efficacy of three drug regimens (cholestyramine resin, 8 g/d; cholestyramine resin, 8 g/d, plus lovastatin, 5 mg/d; and lovastatin, 20 mg/d) was tested in 26 men aged 31 to 70 years with moderate hypercholesterolemia after a Step-One cholesterol-lowering diet. Each drug period was 3 months in duration, interspersed by a 1-month period of the Step-One diet only. Blood for lipid and lipoprotein measurements was obtained on 5 different days during the last 2 weeks of each drug and diet-only period.
Cholestyramine resin therapy at 8 g/d achieved a significant reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels from 4.47 mmol/L (173 mg/dL) to 3.90 mmol/L (151 mg/dL) (P<.005). The addition of 5 mg of lovastatin to cholestyramine therapy achieved even lower levels, averaging 3.39 mmol/L (131 mg/dL) (P<.005). Lovastatin therapy at 20 mg/d produced lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels similar to that of the low-dose combination.
Low-dose combination drug therapy for the management of hypercholesterolemia appears to be an effective means of lowering cholesterol levels that remain persistently elevated after dietary therapy; at the same time, it should carry a low risk of toxic effects.(Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:393-399)