Adding Ezetimibe to a Statin Reduces Cardiovascular Events

A Merck study found patients who received a cholesterol-lowering combination of ezetimibe/simvastatin experienced fewer major cardiovascular events than those taking simvastatin alone.

A Merck study found patients who received a cholesterol-lowering combination of ezetimibe/simvastatin (Vytorin) experienced fewer major cardiovascular events than those taking simvastatin alone.

The results were derived from 18,144 high-risk patients with acute coronary syndrome in the IMPROVE-IT study.

High-risk patients taking statins, including those on treatment with low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), are still at an increased cardiovascular risk, according to a Merck press release. Therefore, the study’s purpose was to examine whether lowering LDL-C to well under 70 mg/dL by adding ezetimibe to a statin further reduces the risk of cardiovascular events.

At year 7, 32.7% of patients taking Vytorin experienced a primary endpoint event, compared with the 34.7% of patients taking only simvastatin.

“In IMPROVE-IT, the addition of ezetimibe to a statin resulted in a further reduction in cardiovascular events compared to statin therapy alone, which is the first time this has been directly shown in a study of a non-statin cholesterol-lowering medicine,” said study co-chairs Eugene Braunwald, MD, of Harvard Medical School, and Robert Califf, MD, of Duke University. “The IMPROVE-IT data also address an important scientific question about lowering LDL-C to very low levels.”

The results also showed that Vytorin reduced the incidence of death due to a variety of events, including major coronary events, non-fatal stroke, coronary heart disease, non-fatal myocardial infarction, and coronary revascularization occurring 30 days or more after the initial event.