PURPOSE: Most patients fail to achieve and maintain low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol goals established by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP). The Atorvastatin Comparative Cholesterol Efficacy and Safety Study (ACCESS) was a randomized study comparing the efficacy and safety of five statins and their ability reduce LDL cholesterol to the NCEP target level. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Of 7542 patients screened, 3916 hypercholesterolemic patients were randomly assigned to treatment with a statin, beginning with the lowest recommended dose (atorvastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin, 10 mg; fluvastatin and lovastatin, 20 mg). If the NCEP target was not achieved, the dose was titrated up to the recommended maximum (atorvastatin, fluvastatin, and lovastatin, 80 mg; pravastatin and simvastatin, 40 mg). The total duration of treatment was 54 weeks. RESULTS: Atorvastatin achieved the greatest mean reduction in LDL cholesterol: 36% ± 11% at 6 weeks (initial dose) and 42% ± 13% at 54 weeks. More patients receiving atorvastatin at its initial dose (53%, 997 of 1888) achieved their NCEP target levels than patients receiving simvastatin (38%, 174 of 462), lovastatin (28%, 134 of 472), pravastatin (15%, 71 of 461), or fluvastatin (15%, 69 of 474) at the initial dose. Atorvastatin-treated patients were more likely to maintain their target levels from week 6 to week 54. The percent reduction in LDL cholesterol achieved at the initial dose correlated strongly with the proportion of patients who maintained their goals at 54 weeks (r = -0.84). CONCLUSION: For patients treated with statins, providing a greater margin between the NCEP target level and the achieved LDL cholesterol level enhances the likelihood of maintaining NCEP goal levels.
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