Lost Therapeutic Benefit of Delayed Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Control in Statin-Treated Patients and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Lipid-Lowering Intensification

Published:November 24, 2022DOI:


      • Most statin-treated patients do not achieve low-density lipoprotein cholesterol therapeutic goals, remaining at high risk of coronary heart disease; the lost therapeutic benefit and the economic impact of delaying target achievement are unclear.
      • Delaying lipid-lowering intensification translates into worse health and economic outcomes than early and intense lipid lowering for statin-treated individuals with uncontrolled low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and no previous cardiovascular disease.



      Attainment of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) therapeutic goals in statin-treated patients remains suboptimal. We quantified the health economic impact of delayed lipid-lowering intensification from an Australian healthcare and societal perspective.


      A lifetime Markov cohort model (n = 1000) estimating the impact on coronary heart disease (CHD) of intensifying lipid-lowering treatment in statin-treated patients with uncontrolled LDL-C, at moderate to high risk of CHD with no delay or after a 5-year delay, compared with standard of care (no intensification), starting at age 40 years. Intensification was tested with high-intensity statins or statins + ezetimibe. LDL-C levels were extracted from a primary care cohort. CHD risk was estimated using the pooled cohort equation. The effect of cumulative exposure to LDL-C on CHD risk was derived from Mendelian randomization data. Outcomes included CHD events, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), healthcare and productivity costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). All outcomes were discounted annually by 5%.


      Over the lifetime horizon, compared with standard of care, achieving LDL-C control with no delay with high-intensity statins prevented 29 CHD events and yielded 30 extra QALYs (ICERs AU$13 205/QALY) versus 22 CHD events and 16 QALYs (ICER AU$20 270/QALY) with a 5-year delay. For statins + ezetimibe, no delay prevented 53 CHD events and gave 45 extra QALYs (ICER AU$37 271/QALY) versus 40 CHD events and 29 QALYs (ICER of AU$44 218/QALY) after a 5-year delay.


      Delaying attainment of LDL-C goals translates into lost therapeutic benefit and a waste of resources. Urgent policies are needed to improve LDL-C goal attainment in statin-treated patients.


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