Background: Four large trials have shown cholesterol-reduction therapy to be effective for primary prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD). Methods: To determine the generalizability of these trials to a community-based sample, we compared the total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) distributions of patients in the 4 trials with those of Framingham Heart Study subjects. Lipid profiles that have not been studied were identified. Twelve-year rates of incident CHD were compared between subjects who met eligibility criteria and those who did not. Results: The Framingham sample included 2498 men and 2870 women aged 30 to 74 years. Among Framingham men, 23.4% to 42.0% met eligibility criteria for each of the 4 trials based on their lipid levels; 60.2% met eligibility criteria for at least 1 trial. For the 1 trial that included women, 20.2% of Framingham women met eligibility criteria. In general, subjects with desirable total cholesterol levels and lower HDL-C levels and subjects with average total cholesterol levels and average to higher HDL-C levels have not been included in these trials. Among subjects who developed incident CHD during follow-up, 25.1% of men and 66.2% of women would not have been eligible for any trial. Most ineligible subjects who developed CHD had isolated hypertriglyceridemia (>2.25 mmol/L [>200 mg/dL]). Conclusions: In our sample, 40% of men and 80% of women had lipid profiles that have not been studied in large trials to date. We observed a large number of CHD events in "ineligible" subjects in whom hypertriglyceridemia was common. Further studies are needed to define the role of lipid-lowering therapy vs other strategies for primary prevention in the general population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine