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Keywords:

  • cardiovascular events;
  • pharmacologic therapy;
  • prevention;
  • clinical guidelines

Abstract

An abundance of clinical data exists to support the ability of pharmacologic interventions to reduce risk for vascular events significantly; however, there remains a gap between this evidence and current clinical practice. Recent data from large-scale, placebo-controlled statin trials demonstrate that these agents dramatically reduce risk for cardiovascular events, even in moderate-risk patients with normal to moderately elevated cholesterol levels. Data from trials of a broad range of antihypertensives reinforce the value of blood pressure (BP) management and indicate that some of these agents may have additional benefits beyond BP reduction. Similarly, meta-analyses of randomized trials confirm that antiplatelet therapy prevents serious cardiovascular events in a wide range of high-risk patients. Each of these interventions alone has been demonstrated to reduce the risk for vascular events by approximately 25 to 30%. A combination approach utilizing intensive risk-reducing therapy with more than one of these agents has the potential to reduce the risk for vascular events by as much as 75%. Combined with nonpharmacologic risk reduction strategies, including exercise, diet, and smoking cessation, an opportunity exists to reduce the incidence of both first and recurrent cardiovascular events dramatically.