Statin therapy for primary prevention in men: What is the role for coronary artery calcium?

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Current cholesterol guidelines for primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) base statin treatment decisions on multiple risk factor algorithms (e.g., Pooled Cohort Equations [PCEs]). By available PCEs, most older middle-aged men are statin eligible. But several studies cast doubt on predictive accuracy of available PCEs for ASCVD risk assessment. Recent studies suggest that accuracy can be improved by measurement of coronary artery calcium (CAC). This method has the advantage of identifying men at low risk in whom statin therapy can be delayed for several years, provided they are monitored periodically for progression of CAC. Thus, there are two approaches to statin therapy in men ≥ 55 years: first all men could be treated routinely, or second, treatment can be based on the extent of coronary calcium. The latter could allow a sizable fraction of men to avoid treatment for several years or indefinitely. Whether with initial CAC scan or with periodic rescanning, a CAC score ≥ 100 Agatston units is high enough to warrant statin therapy. In otherwise high-risk men (e.g., diabetes, severe hypercholesterolemia, 10-year risk by PCE ≥ 20%), a statin is generally indicated without the need for CAC; but in special cases, CAC measurement may aid in treatment decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-18
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Lipidology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Coronary artery calcium
  • Pooled cohort equations
  • Primary prevention
  • Risk assessment
  • Statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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