Implications of Changing National Cholesterol Education Program Goals for the Treatment and Control of Hypercholesterolemia

Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, and the Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611-2927, USA.
Journal of General Internal Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.42). 03/2006; 21(2):171-6. DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00323.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Modifications to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines lowered optional low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) treatment goals.
We evaluated the implications of widely adopting these optional goals in clinical practice.
We performed a cross-sectional study using 1999 to 2002 data from 3,281 U.S. adults aged 20 to 79 years participating the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The primary outcomes were the proportions of adults whose fasting LDL-C levels exceeded NCEP recommended and optional targets from 2001 and 2004. We used survey weights to estimate the size of the U.S. population exceeding targets. We examined outcomes for 4 coronary disease risk subgroups described by the NCEP.
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol values exceeded 2001 NCEP goals for 30.0% of adults, and 35.8% had levels above optional 2004 goals. An estimated 24,900,000 individuals (14.2%) exceeded 2001 thresholds for drug therapy, 46,200,000 (26.3%) exceeded optional 2001 thresholds for drug therapy, and 56,500,000 (32.2%) were above the optional 2004 thresholds for drug therapy. For lower, moderate, moderately high, and high-risk groups, 13.4%, 44.2%, 58.8%, and 71.8%, respectively, exceeded 2001 NCEP goals; 13.4%, 15.7%, 87.4%, and 96.0% of these groups exceeded optional 2004 thresholds for drug therapy.
In 1999 to 2002, LDL-C levels commonly exceeded 2001 NCEP goals, especially for moderately high and high-risk individuals, and cholesterol-lowering medications were underused. Optional goals promulgated by the NCEP in 2001 and 2004 moderately increased the number of adults with LDL-C above their goal, and greatly increased the number of low, moderately high, and high-risk adults who exceeded LDL-C thresholds, for cholesterol-lowering medication.