Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common condition associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction and stroke. It follows that PAD merits aggressive preventive treatment that includes lipid lowering drugs (mainly statins). This review summarises the current knowledge concerning the use and mechanisms of action of statins in patients with PAD. Statins not only lower the risk of vascular events, but they also improve the symptoms associated with PAD. There is also evidence that statins reduce surgical mortality and improve graft patency and limb salvage. Because of the high risk, a more aggressive goal [i.e. low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) of 70 mg / dl; 1.8 mmol / l] [National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III), revised guidelines 2004] should be considered to maximally reduce the atheroma burden and related events. Not all statins can achieve this LDL-C target. Furthermore, there may be a need to use an additional lipid lowering drug so as to achieve the LDL-C goal and benefit from the different modes of action. Statins exert beneficial pleiotropic effects on haemostasis, the vasculature and inflammatory markers. There is also evidence that statins improve renal function (the plasma creatinine level is considered as an emerging vascular risk factor). Since PAD patients often take several drugs, there is a need to carefully consider their selection so as to maximize benefits and minimize adverse effects. Patients with PAD often do not receive adequate lipid lowering treatment. This situation needs to change.
Keywords: peripheral arterial disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, vascular risk, prevention, statins, lipids, clopidogrel
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