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Cost-effectiveness of using high-sensitivity C-reactive protein to identify intermediate- and low-cardiovascular-risk individuals for statin therapy

BACKGROUND: Many myocardial infarctions and strokes occur in individuals with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels below recommended treatment thresholds. High sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) testing has been advocated to identify low- and intermediate-risk individuals who may benefit from statin therapy. METHODS AND RESULTS: A decision analytic Markov model was used to follow hypothetical cohorts of individuals with normal lipid levels but without coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, or diabetes mellitus. The model compared current Adult Treatment Panel III practice guidelines, a strategy of hs-CRP screening in those without an indication for statin treatment by current practice guidelines followed by treatment only in those with elevated hs-CRP levels, and a strategy of statin therapy at specified predicted risk thresholds without hs-CRP testing. Risk-based treatment without hs-CRP testing was the most cost-effective strategy, assuming that statins were equally effective regardless of hs-CRP status. However, if normal hs-CRP levels identified a subgroup with little or no benefit from statin therapy (<20% relative risk reduction), then hs-CRP screening would be the optimal strategy. If harms from statin use were greater than generally recognized, then use of current clinical guidelines would be the optimal strategy. CONCLUSION: Risk-based statin treatment without hs-CRP testing is more cost-effective than hs-CRP screening, assuming that statins have good long-term safety and provide benefits among low-risk people with normal hs-CRP.

Authors: Lee KK; Cipriano LE; Owens DK; Go AS; Hlatky MA

Circulation. 2010 Oct 12;122(15):1478-87. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

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