Objective: To determine how frequently the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) goal of a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level of 100 mg/dL or less is achieved in clinical practice in patients with coronary artery disease and what fraction of patients can achieve this goal without drug therapy. Design: We examined the results of lipid management in 152 consecutive patients who had completed cardiac rehabilitation after an acute coronary event. Patients were randomized to follow-up by specially trained nurses or by preventive cardiologists, and they were not receiving lipid-lowering drugs at the start of the study. Material and Methods: Patients were given aggressive diet and exercise recommendations and lipid- lowering drugs in accordance with NCEP guidelines. Follow-up was continued for a mean of 526 days after the first lipid assessment subsequent to the coronary event. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent predictors of a final LDL cholesterol level of 100 mg/dL or less. Results: Of the study group, 39% achieved the NCEP goal LDL cholesterol level of 100 mg/dL or less. Characteristics of the patients with LDL cholesterol levels of 100 mg/dL or less in comparison with those with LDL cholesterol levels of more than 100 mg/dL included a greater frequency of drug therapy (65% versus 38%), more rigorous dietary compliance, longer follow-up (586 ± 317 days versus 493 ± 264 days), more favorable weight change (-0.3 ± 4.9 kg versus +1.7 ± 5.0 kg), and more extensive weekly exercise (183 ± 118 minutes versus 127 ± 107 minutes). Conclusion: The registered nurses managed the lipids of these patients as effectively as did the preventive cardiologists. Appropriate drug therapy was the most important factor in achieving an LDL cholesterol level of 100 mg/dL or less, but 35% of patients attaining this NCEP goal were not receiving drug therapy. Exercise, dietary compliance, and weight loss were also important factors.
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