Placebo-controlled clinical trials have shown that atorvastatin is beneficial in patients with myocardial ischemia, established coronary artery disease, hypertension and 3 other cardiovascular risk factors (e.g. left-ventricular hypertrophy, type 2 diabetes, smoking), and in diabetes, but not in patients with calcific aortic stenosis. Recently, intensive low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol lowering with atorvastatin 80 mg/day has been shown to have a greater clinical benefit than atorvastatin 10 mg/day in patients with coronary heart disease and one other high-risk factor (previous myocardial infarction, coronary revascularization or angina), and to be superior to moderate lipid lowering with pravastatin (40 mg/day) in patients with an acute coronary syndrome. However, a smaller study comparing lovastatin 5 mg/day with atorvastatin 80 mg/day was unable to detect any difference in outcomes in patients with stable coronary disease, despite the greater LDL-cholesterol lowering with the atorvastatin, possibly because it was not powered to do so. In a retrospective cohort study, atorvastatin 10 mg/day, pravastatin 20 mg/day, simvastatin 20 mg/day, lovastatin 20 mg/day and fluvastatin 20 mg/day had similar efficacy as secondary prevention after acute myocardial infarction. At present, the evidence from clinical trials is favouring the intensity of the effect on LDL-cholesterol and/or C-reactive protein (CRP) with atorvastatin 80 mg, rather than the use of atorvastatin per se, when greater benefits are observed with the 80 mg dose of atorvastatin compared to other statins. Thus, at present, it is not clear whether atorvastatin is superior to other statins in some indications (coronary heart disease, acute coronary syndromes) or whether it is the intensive lipid lowering that is responsible for the superiority. Atorvastatin has little or no ability to increase high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, and this may be a disadvantage in patients with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, where low HDLcholesterol is a key feature. Thus, other statins should probably be preferred to atorvastatin in patients with diabetes/metabolic syndrome. Alternatively, atorvastatin can be used in combination with a fibrate to increase HDLcholesterol in patients with diabetes/metabolic syndrome.
Keywords: Atorvastatin, Clinical trials, Coronary heart disease, CRP, Diabetes, Fenofibrate, HDL-cholesterol, Lovastatin, LDL-cholesterol, Pravastatin