Cost and health implications of cholesterol lowering.
BACKGROUND A broad, scientific consensus supports the role of cholesterol as a risk factor for coronary heart disease and agrees that lowering cholesterol levels will reduce coronary heart disease incidence. Cost-effectiveness analysis is a potentially powerful method for measuring the benefits to be achieved by expenditures of health care dollars.
METHODS AND RESULTS The literature related to the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of cholesterol lowering was reviewed. Application of cost-effectiveness methodology to the question of cholesterol reduction generally supports the use of population-wide educational programs and the aggressive use of cholesterol-lowering therapy for the secondary prevention of subsequent coronary events in persons with preexisting coronary heart disease. For primary prevention, however, therapy with medication has a favorable cost-effectiveness ratio only in identifiable high-risk persons, and the different costs of the various available medications should be taken into account. Therapy with medications, especially for primary prevention, would be more appealing if the price of the available medications were lower.
CONCLUSIONS High priority should be given to research that could validate these cost-effectiveness projections as well as to further studies of the elderly and women, in whom direct data on the precise costs, risks, and benefits of interventions to lower cholesterol remain sparse.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association