The prevalence, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and treatment of patients at very high risk of cardiovascular events in the United Kingdom: a cross-sectional study

Objective: To assess the prevalence of patients at very high risk of cardiovascular (CV) events in the United Kingdom (UK) and evaluate low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) values and treatment patterns in these patients.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used primary care data from UK electronic medical records in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) in 2013. Very high-risk patients were defined per European Society of Cardiology guidelines as those with hyperlipidemia (assessed by co-medication) and documented cardiovascular disease (CVD) or hyperlipidemia and type 2 diabetes (DM2) without CVD (DM2w/oCVD). All analyses were descriptive.

Results: Data from 4,940,226 patients were captured in the CPRD in 2013. Of these, 5% of patients had received ≥2 lipid-modifying therapy prescriptions and were at very high risk of CVD (3% [n = 138,536] had documented CVD, 2% [n = 98,743] had DM2w/oCVD). In documented CVD patients, coronary artery disease (73%) was the most frequent type of event (25% had myocardial infarction [MI]), followed by cerebrovascular disease (18%), and peripheral arterial disease (9%); 21% had experienced multiple CV events, 25% had DM2, and 3% had MI within 1 year. In documented CVD and DM2w/oCVD patients, >95% received statin treatment; 24% received high-intensity statin, and 1.5% statin plus ezetimibe. Across both populations, 64–66% had LDL-C levels ≥1.8 mmol/L, 27–28% ≥2.5 mmol/L, 6–7% ≥3.5 mmol/L, and 3% had levels ≥4.0 mmol/L, respectively.

Conclusion: A well-defined proportion of patients remain at very high-risk of CVD. Statin therapy needs optimization, but, for some patients with high LDL-C levels, multiple CV events, MI within 1 year, or CVD and DM2, additional more intensive therapy may be needed.