Ezetimibe is a new lipid-lowering agent that inhibits intestinal absorption of dietary cholesterol. It substantially lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels when used alone or in combination with statins. However, its effect on cardiovascular mortality remains unknown. We reviewed peer-reviewed published literature on the effect of ezetimibe on different phases of atherosclerosis. MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS, and other Web of Knowledge databases were searched for relevant abstracts and articles published in the English language that compared ezetimibe and statins as modulators of atherosclerosis. On the basis of the available evidence, ezetimibe appears to reduce inflammation when used in combination with statins, but its effect on endothelial function is mixed and less clear. The effect of ezetimibe on coronary disease progression or prevention of cardiovascular events is currently unknown. Use of ezetimibe as a second- or third-line agent to achieve low-density lipoprotein cholesterol treatment goals seems appropriate on the basis of the available evidence.
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