20-Year Follow-up of Statins in Children

A recent study (IK Luirink et al. NEJM 2019; 381: 1547-56) examined the effects of statin therapy in children with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) who were followed for 20 years. At baseline, the median age was 13 years in the treated cohort and in their sibling control group.  184 of 214 (86%) of patients with FH were seen in follow-up and 77 of 95 (81%) of siblings.

Key findings:

  • The mean LDL cholesterol had decreased from 237 to 161 mg/dL
  • LDL target of <100 mg/dL was achieved in 37 patients (20%)
  • Mean progression of carotid intima-media thickness over the entire follow-up period was 0.0056 mm/year in patients with FH and 0.0057 mm/year in sibling controls
  • The cumulative incidence of cardiovascular events and death from cardiovascular causes at age 39 years was lower in the treated group compared to  their affected parents: 1% vs. 26% and 0% vs. 7% respectively

Discussion:

“This makes a strong case for not only ‘the lower the better’ but also for ‘the younger the better” as atherosclerotic disease is determined not only by the LDL level but also by cumulative exposure.

My take: This study provides convincing data that statin therapy prolongs health and life in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia.

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