Suboptimal Triglyceride Levels Among Statin Users in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Suboptimal Triglyceride Levels Among Statin Users in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

By Heather Nelson Cortes, PhD and Kevin C Maki, PhD

 

Statin therapy is the primary treatment for dyslipidemia, even in those with moderately elevated triglycerides (TG).1  Hypertriglyceridemia, an independent risk factor of coronary heart disease (CHD), is defined as fasting TG >150 mg/dL.2  Meta-analyses have shown a 1.7-fold greater risk for CHD in those in the highest TG tertile compared to those in the lowest tertile.2,3  In a more recent longitudinal, real-world administrative database analysis, increased cardiovascular disease risk and direct healthcare costs were associated with hypertriglyceridemia, despite statin therapy and controlled low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) when compared to those with TG <150 mg/dL.4,5  Another study has also reported that approximately one-third of patients treated for dyslipidemia still have suboptimal TG levels.6

In the US population, limited data have been available on the prevalence and impact of hypertriglyceridemia in patients treated for dyslipidemia or with normal LDL-C levels, especially given the increase in statin use.  To help address this gap, Fan et al. analyzed National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2007-2014 to determine the prevalence of elevated TG levels in adults with and without statin use, as well as the associated 10-year predicted atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk.7  The study included 9,593 US adults aged 20 years (219.9 million projected) and determined the proportion of persons with TG levels according to the categories of <150, 150-199, 200-499, and 500 mg/dL for both non-statin and statin users.

Proportion of US adults According to TG Category7

 

<150 mg/dL

150-199 mg/dL

≥ 200 mg/dL

Non-statin users

75.3%

12.8%

11.9%

Statin Users

68.4%

16.2%

15.4%

 

Among those with LDL-C <100 mg/dL (or <70 mg/dL in those with ASCVD), 27.6% had TG 150 mg/dL, despite statin use.  Significantly greater odds of TG 150 mg/dL in statin users were associated with higher age, higher body mass index, lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, higher LDL-C, and diabetes.  The estimated mean 10-year ASCVD risk from TG <150 to 500 mg/dL, ranged from 6.0-15.6% in those not taking statins, and 11.3-19.1% in statin users. This translates to a predicted 3.4 million ASCVD events over the next 10 years in those with TG 150 mg/dL.

Comment.  Based on these results in US adults, suboptimal TG levels are found in ~25% of the overall population and nearly one-third of adults on statin therapy.  TG elevation is associated with increased ASCVD risk, even when the LDL-C level is low.8  Lifestyle therapies are key in the management of an elevated TG level, including increased physical activity, weight loss, reduced glycemic load and alcohol restriction.1,9  The recently published results from the Reduction of Cardiovascular Events with Icosapent Ethyl (REDUCE-IT) trial demonstrated that ASCVD event risk was lowered by an impressive 25% in statin-treated high-risk patients with elevated TG by the addition of 4 g/d of icosapent ethyl (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] ethyl esters).10  Two additional large-scale trials are underway with TG-lowering drug therapies (Outcomes Study to Assess Statin Residual Risk Reduction with Epanova in High CV Risk Patients [STRENGTH] and Pemafibrate to Reduce Cardiovascular Outcomes by Reducing Triglycerides in Patients with Diabetes [PROMINENT]), which are evaluating effects of EPA + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) carboxylic acids and pemafibrate, respectively.11,12  The results from the present survey suggest that the population-attributable risk due to elevated TG in the US is substantial, which underscores the importance of recognizing hypertriglyceridemia as a marker for ASCVD risk that can be addressed through lifestyle and pharmacologic therapies.

References

 

  1. Stone NJ, Robinson JG, Lichtenstein AH, et al. American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force on practice guidelines. 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force on practice guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2889–2934
  2. Sarwar N, Danesh J, Eiriksdottir G, et al. Triglycerides and the risk of coronary heart disease: 10,158 incident cases among 262,525 participants in 29 Western prospective studies. Circulation. 2007;115(4): 450–458.
  3. Hokanson JE, Austin MA. Plasma triglyceride level is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease independent of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level: a meta-analysis of population-based prospective studies. J Cardiovasc Risk. 1996;3(2):213–219.
  4. Toth PP, Granowitz C, Hull M, et al. High triglycerides are associated with increased cardiovascular events, medical costs, and resource use: a real-world administrative claims analysis of statin-treated patients with high residual cardiovascular risk. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7:e008740.
  5. Nichols GA, Philip S, Reynolds K, et al. Increased cardiovascular risk in hypertriglyceridemic patients with statin-controlled LDL cholesterol. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018;103:3019–3027.
  6. Wong ND, Chuang J, Wong K, et al. Residual dyslipidemia among United States adults treated with lipid modifying therapy (Data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2010). Am J Cardiol. 2013;112:373–379.
  7. Fan W, Philip S, Granowitz C, et al. Hypertriglyceridemia in statin-treated US adults: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Clin Lipidol. 2019;13:100–108.
  8. Miller M, Cannon CP, Murphy SA, et al. Impact of triglyceride levels beyond low-density lipoprotein cholesterol after acute coronary syndrome in the PROVE IT-TIMI 22 trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;51:724–730.
  9. Jacobson A, Savji N, Blumenthal RS, Martin SS. American College of Cardiology Expert Analysis. Hypertriglyceridemia management according to the 2018 AHA/ACC guideline. January 11, 2019. Available at https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2019/01/11/07/39/hypertriglyceridemia-management-according-to-the-2018-aha-acc-guideline.
  10. Bhatt DL, Steg PG, Miller M, et al. Cardiovascular risk reduction with icosapent ethyl for hypertriglyceridemia. N Engl J Med. 2019;380:11–22.
  11. Nicholls SJ, Lincoff AM, Bash D, et al. Assessment of omega-3 carboxylic acids in statin-treated patients with high levels of triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol: rationale and design of the STRENGTH trial. Clin Cardiol. 2018;41:1281–1288.
  12. Pradhan AD, Paynter NP, Everett BM, et al. Rationale and design of the Pemafibrate to Reduce Cardiovascular Outcomes by Reducing Triglycerides in Patients with Diabetes (PROMINENT) study. Am Heart J. 2018;206:80–93.

 

 

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Summary of Results from a Trial of a Novel Selective PPARɑ Modulator, Pemafibrate, on Lipid and Glucose Metabolism in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertriglyceridemia1

Summary of Results from a Trial of a Novel Selective PPARɑ Modulator, Pemafibrate, on Lipid and Glucose Metabolism in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertriglyceridemia

By Kristen N Smith, PhD, RD, LD; Mary R Dicklin, PhD; Kevin C Maki, PhD

 Background:

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is a leading cause of death in persons with type 2 diabetes2 and the incidence of cardiovascular events is elevated in patients with type 2 diabetes compared with those without diabetes.3,4 Abnormalities in lipid metabolism often accompany type 2 diabetes mellitus and are associated with insulin resistance, including:

  • Elevated triglyceride (TG) levels with delayed clearance of TG-rich lipoproteins from the circulation;
  • Reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels;
  • An increased proportion of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles.

Several large-scale clinical trials, including the Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study (CARDS) and a Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) meta-analysis, have shown that effective management of dyslipidemia through LDL cholesterol (LDL-C)-lowering therapy with statins results in reduced cardiovascular risk in patients with diabetes.5,6 Other studies in people with diabetes have also identified risk factors for developing coronary heart disease including the Japan Diabetes Complication Study (JDCS), which noted high LDL-C and TG levels as risk factors, and the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), which showed that high LDL-C and low HDL-C are associated with elevated cardiovascular disease risk.7,8

Studies with fibrates have shown the expected decreases in TG and increases in HDL-C, but have shown inconsistent results regarding reductions in ASCVD risk in patients with type 2 diabetes. A meta-analysis completed by our group9 showed evidence that fibrates and other drugs that primarily lower TG and TG-rich lipoproteins (omega-3 fatty acid concentrates and niacin) reduce ASCVD events in participants with elevated TG, particularly if also accompanied by low HDL-C.

Pemafibrate (K-877) is a novel selective peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARɑ) modulator approved for the treatment of dyslipidemia.10 Ishibashi et al. performed a dose-finding phase 2 trial of pemafibrate in patients with atherogenic dyslipidemia (elevated TG and low HDL-C) and noted significant reductions in TG and increases in HDL-C with rates of adverse events (AEs) similar to placebo. Because type 2 diabetes and atherogenic dyslipidemia often coexist, many of the patients who receive treatment with pemafibrate (once approved for marketing) are expected to also have type 2 diabetes. This summary reports on the initial 24-week treatment period for a Phase III clinical trial comparing the effects of pemafibrate and placebo in patients with elevated TG and type 2 diabetes. The primary end point of the study was the percentage change in fasting serum TG level from baseline to the end point of 24 weeks. Secondary endpoints included the percentage changes or changes from baseline in fasting and postprandial lipid-related and glycemic parameters. The primary safety end points were the incidence rates of AEs and adverse drug reactions after the study drug usage.

 Methods:

This was a multicenter, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, parallel group study that was completed in 34 medical institutions in Japan from February 20, 2014 through April 30, 2015. Subjects were eligible for the study if they met the following criteria:

  • Men and postmenopausal women age ≥20 years;
  • Type 2 diabetes with glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) ≥6.2% and TG ≥150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L);
  • ≥12 weeks of dietary or exercise guidance before the first screening visit.

This study included participants who were randomly assigned to receive twice daily placebo (n = 57), 0.2 mg/day pemafibrate (n = 54), or 0.4 mg/day pemafibrate (n = 55) for 24 weeks. Pemafibrate is available in 0.1 mg tablets.

 Results:

Fasting serum TG significantly decreased by ~45% with pemafibrate compared with placebo (p<0.001, see table).

 

 

Fasting TG, mg/dL, mean ± standard deviation

 

Baseline

Week 24

Placebo

  284.3 ± 117.6

240.0 ± 92.2

0.2 mg/day pemafibrate

240.3 ± 93.5

129.0 ± 71.5

0.4 mg/day pemafibrate

260.4 ± 95.9

135.8 ± 71.2

Percentage changes in fasting serum TG levels from baseline to 24 weeks were -10.8% (p < 0.01), -44.3% (p < 0.001) and -45.1% (p <0.001) for placebo, 0.2 mg/day and 0.4 mg/day, respectively. The pemafibrate groups also had significantly reduced levels of non-HDL-C, remnant lipoprotein cholesterol, apolipoprotein (Apo) B100, Apo B48 and Apo C3, and significantly increased HDL-C and Apo A1 levels. LDL-C was not significantly affected by treatment with pemafibrate. The 0.2 mg/day pemafibrate group had significant reductions in homeostasis model assessment (HOMA)-insulin resistance scores compared with placebo, but no significant alterations vs. placebo were seen in fasting plasma glucose, fasting insulin, glycoalbumin or HbA1c. Rates of AEs and adverse drug reactions were similar between the two pemafibrate groups and the placebo group.

 Comment:

This is the first report of long-term (24 weeks) efficacy and safety of pemafibrate in subjects with type 2 diabetes and hypertriglyceridemia. In this study, which was conducted in Japan, pemafibrate lowered TG levels by ~45%, which was apparent within the first month of the treatment period and maintained over the entire treatment period. An ASCVD event trial with pemafibrate commenced enrollment in 2017, the Pemafibrate to Reduce Cardiovascular Outcomes by Reducing Triglycerides in Patients with Diabetes (PROMINENT) trial, and is expected to complete in 2022 (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03071692).

References:

  1. Araki E, Yamashita S, Arai H, et al. Effects of pemafibrate, a novel selective PPARalpha modulator, on lipid and glucose metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes and hypertriglyceridemia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Phase 3 Trial. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(3):538-546.
  2. Tancredi M, Rosengren A, Svensson AM, et al. Excess mortality among persons with type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2015;373(18):1720-1732.
  3. Haffner SM, Lehto S, Ronnemaa T, Pyorala K, Laakso M. Mortality from coronary heart disease in subjects with type 2 diabetes and in nondiabetic subjects with and without prior myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 1998;339(4):229-234.
  4. Mulnier HE, Seaman HE, Raleigh VS, et al. Risk of myocardial infarction in men and women with type 2 diabetes in the UK: a cohort study using the General Practice Research Database. Diabetologia. 2008;51(9):1639-1645.
  5. Colhoun HM, Betteridge DJ, Durrington PN, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with atorvastatin in type 2 diabetes in the Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study (CARDS): multicentre randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2004;364(9435):685-696.
  6. Cholesterol Treatment Trialists C, Kearney PM, Blackwell L, et al. Efficacy of cholesterol-lowering therapy in 18,686 people with diabetes in 14 randomised trials of statins: a meta-analysis. Lancet. 2008;371(9607):117-125.
  7. Sone H, Tanaka S, Tanaka S, et al. Serum level of triglycerides is a potent risk factor comparable to LDL cholesterol for coronary heart disease in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes: subanalysis of the Japan Diabetes Complications Study (JDCS). J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(11):3448-3456.
  8. Turner RC, Millns H, Neil HA, et al. Risk factors for coronary artery disease in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus: United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS: 23). BMJ. 1998;316(7134):823-828.
  9. Maki KC, Guyton JR, Orringer CE, Hamilton-Craig I, Alexander DD, Davidson MH. Triglyceride-lowering therapies reduce cardiovascular disease event risk in subjects with hypertriglyceridemia. J Clin Lipidol. 2016;10(4):905-914.

10.       Ishibashi S, Yamashita S, Arai H, et al. Effects of K-877, a novel selective PPARalpha modulator (SPPARMalpha), in dyslipidaemic patients: A randomized, double blind, active- and placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial. Atherosclerosis. 2016;249:36-43.

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