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Should Statin Therapy Be Allocated on the Basis of Global Risk or on the Basis of Randomized Trial Evidence?

      Current clinical guidelines recommend the use of a global risk assessment tool, such as those pioneered by the Framingham Heart Study, to determine eligibility for statin therapy in patients with absolute risk levels greater than a certain threshold. In support of this approach, several randomized trials have reported that patients with high absolute risk clearly benefit from statin therapy. Therefore, the guideline recommendations would seem intuitive and effective, albeit on the core assumption that the mortality and morbidity benefits associated with statin therapy would be greatest in those with high predicted absolute risk. However, if this assumption is incorrect, using predicted absolute risk to guide statin therapy could easily result in underuse in some groups and overuse in others. Herein, the authors question the utility of global risk assessment strategies based on the Framingham risk score for guiding statin therapy in light of current data that have become available from more recent and robust prospective randomized clinical trials since the publication of the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines. Moreover, the Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines do not support treatment of some patients who may benefit from statin therapy. In conclusion, the authors propose an alternative approach for incorporating more recent randomized trial data into future statin allocation algorithms and treatment guidelines.
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