Healthcare Blog

New Study Shows Abnormal Lipid Levels Are Highly Common In Statin-Treated Patients

October 07, 2017

According to a new analysis of 22,000 patients, nearly three-quarters of patients taking statins still had at least one lipid abnormality. These results, from a study conducted by Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A., which operates in many countries as Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited, were presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The DYSlipidemia International Study (DYSIS) assessed the prevalence of dyslipidemia among patients taking statins by measuring LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C or "bad" cholesterol), HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C or "good" cholesterol), and triglyceride (TG) levels of more than 22,000 patients aged 45 and older who had received statin therapy for at least three months. The study found 48% of patients had LDL-C not at goal; 26% had low HDL-C levels; and 38% had elevated triglycerides. Lipid levels were assessed using ESC guidelines. Patients in the study also had other cardiovascular conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of premature CV disease or had coronary heart disease, among others.

"Statins are the cornerstone of cardiovascular disease prevention and decrease LDL-C levels, and these results suggest that we may need to do more to better manage lipid levels," said Dr. Anselm Gitt, lead investigator and Vice Director of the Myocardial Infarction Research Institute in Ludwigshafen, Germany. "We believe that improving all lipid parameters may reduce the risk of cardiovascular events."

In conjunction with the release of the DYSIS data, MSD presented findings from a recent Merck-sponsored survey of 750 patients in the EU who are currently taking a cholesterol medication.

* The survey was conducted online in July 2009 by HCD Research, Inc. and sponsored by Merck & Co., Inc.

Respondents from five countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) completed a survey which revealed that even patients taking a cholesterol medication had a limited understanding of lipid parameters and the importance of comprehensive lipid management.

Key findings from the survey included:

- Nearly three of five patients did not know (responded incorrectly) or were unsure of whether LDL-C should be lowered to help maintain heart health
- Nearly 70 percent of patients (69 percent) did not know (responded incorrectly) or were unsure of whether raising HDL-C can help maintain heart health
- Only 31 percent of those surveyed believed that "managing their cholesterol" included lowering LDL-C and raising HDL-C and lowering triglycerides.

"The findings from this survey suggest a real gap in patient understanding of lipid management," said Dr. Gitt. "Educating patients on lipid parameters and the importance of the complete lipid profile may help with better cholesterol management and goal attainment."


DYSIS is an epidemiological cross-sectional study designed to examine the lipid profile of statin-treated patients in an out-patient setting. Over 22,000 patients were enrolled from treatment centers across Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Patients were eligible for inclusion if they had been on statin therapy for at least three months prior to the time of assessment, aged ≥45 years, and had at least one lipid parameter available in their chart while receiving statin therapy. Patients were recruited by primary and secondary care physicians.

The prevalence of lipid abnormalities according to the different risk profiles of the statin-treated patients were assessed using ESC guidelines and the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) project cardiovascular risk predictor.

The ESC guidelines define LDL-C goal as