The combined effect of pravastatin and aspirin on clinical cardiovascular events

Lara Michelle Simpson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The 3-hydroxy-3methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, or statins, can achieve significant reductions in plasma low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol levels. Experimental and clinical evidence now shows that some statins interfere with formation of atherosclerotic lesions independent of their hypolipidemic properties. Vulnerable plaque rupture can result in thrombus formation and artery occlusion; this plaque deterioration is responsible for most acute coronary syndromes, including myocardial infarction (MI), unstable angina, and coronary death, as well as coronary heart diseaseequivalent non-hemorrhagic stroke. Inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase has potential pleiotropic effects other than lipid-lowering, as statins block mevalonic acid production, a precursor to cholesterol and numerous other metabolites. Statins' beneficial effects on clinical events may also thus involve nonlipid-related mechanisms that modify endothelial function, inflammatory responses, plaque stability, and thrombus formation. Aspirin, routinely prescribed to post-MI patients as adjunct therapy, may potentiate statins beneficial effects, as aspirin does not compete metabolically with statins but acts similarly on atherosclerotic lesions. Common functions of both medications include inhibition of platelet activity and aggregation, reduction in atherosclerotic plaque macrophage cell count, and prevention of atherosclerotic vessel endothelial dysfunction. The Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE) trial provides an ideal population in which to examine the combined effects of pravastatin and aspirin. Lipid levels, intermediate outcomes, are examined by pravastatin and aspirin status, and differences between the two pravastatin groups are found. A modified Cox proportional-hazards model with aspirin as a time-dependent covariate was used to determine the effect of aspirin and pravastatin on the clinical cardiovascular composite endpoint of coronary heart disease death, recurrent MI or stroke. Among those assigned to pravastatin, use of aspirin reduced the composite primary endpoint by 35%; this result was similar by gender, race, and diabetic status. Older patients demonstrated a nonsignificant 21% reduction in the primary outcome, whereas the younger had a significant reduction of 43% in the composite primary outcome. Secondary outcomes examined include coronary artery bypass graft (38% reduction), nonsurgical bypass, peripheral vascular disease, and unstable angina. Pravastatin and aspirin in a post-MI population was found to be a beneficial combination that seems to work through lipid and nonlipid, anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

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Recommended Citation

Simpson, Lara Michelle, "The combined effect of pravastatin and aspirin on clinical cardiovascular events" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3259236.