The study notes that despite the fact that nearly all persons in the high-risk group have LDL-C levels that are too high, 25 percent of them already use cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins.
The study shows that many more people would need drug therapy to reach the recommended LDL-C levels, but it notes that a substantial number are unlikely to achieve these goals with standard-dose statins.
Current costs may also place those drugs out of reach for many patients. At current retail prices, a year's supply of 40 milligrams daily of generic lovastatin can cost $450 to $700. Costs per patient would be even higher if name-brand statins or high-dose statins and combination drug therapy are used.
The updated guidelines, published in July 2004, were based on a review of five major clinical studies of statin therapy conducted after the 2001 guidelines were released.
Persell's co-investigators on this study were Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine and of medicine; and David W. Baker, M.D., associate professor of medicine and chief of general internal medicine at the Feinberg School.