Daily statin reduces heart disease risk among adults living with HIV

July 27, 2023
NIH-funded clinical trial finds cholesterol-lowering treatment reduced cardiovascular events by 35%.

A National Institute of Health-supported study found that statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering medications, may offset the high risk of cardiovascular disease in people living with HIV by more than a third, potentially preventing one in five major cardiovascular events or premature deaths in this population. People living with HIV can have a 50-100% increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

For the double-blinded phase 3 trial, known as Randomized Trial to Prevent Vascular Events in HIV (REPRIEVE) study, researchers randomized participants into either a treatment group, where they received a daily statin – in this case pitavastatin calcium – or a control group, where they received a placebo pill that contained no medication. The researchers followed participants for about five years, but ended the trial early when they discovered the treatment benefits outweighed potential risks. 

To understand the benefits, the researchers compared how often participants in each group experienced major cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes, or surgery to open a blocked artery. They found participants who took daily pitavastatin had 35% fewer major cardiovascular events than those who took a placebo. The researchers also measured the number of deaths in combination with major cardiovascular events during the study period and found participants in the treatment group were 21% less likely than those in the placebo group to experience these events. Additionally, those who took pitavastatin had a 30% reduction in their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. 

NIH release