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How Often Do We Need to Check Cholesterol Levels?

Friday, October 29, 2010 // Uncategorized

Adherent patients with well-controlled cholesterol levels could be monitored every 3 to 5 years.

To examine variations in cholesterol concentrations, investigators used data from the Long-term Intervention with Pravastatin in Ischaemic Disease (LIPID) study of 9014 patients (mean age, 62 years; 83% men) with coronary heart disease who were randomized to receive pravastatin (40 mg) or placebo. Lipid concentrations were measured by a single laboratory at randomization, at 6 and 12 months, and then annually until 5 years. The average pretreatment cholesterol level was 5.65 mmol/L.

Standard deviations for within-person short-term variability of a single measurement (based on measures taken 4 weeks before randomization) were 0.38 and 0.42 mmol/L for the placebo and pravastatin groups, respectively (average variation, 7%). Both the placebo and pravastatin groups had small increases in within-person variability over time. The mean cholesterol increase in the pravastatin group from 6 months to 5 years was 0.14 mmol/L (average variation, 0.7% per year). Mean LDL levels had similar variances over time (variances of difference from baseline to years 1, 3, and 5 were 0.32, 0.42, and 0.45 mmol/L, respectively, in the placebo group and 0.49, 0.53, and 0.56 mmol/L in the pravastatin group).

Joel M. Gore, MD

Published in Journal Watch Cardiology May 21, 2008

Citation(s):
Glasziou PP et al. for the Lipid Study Investigators. Monitoring cholesterol levels: Measurement error or true change? Ann Intern Med 2008 May 6; 148:656.

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