Control of hypercholesterolaemia is an effective way of reducing cardiovascular events in patients at elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. Repeat cholesterol measurement is a good practice, but is rarely performed, with clinicians often adopting a ‘fire and forget’ policy.
A retrospective audit at two cardiac centres in the West Midlands was performed to evaluate performance in lipid measurement following initiation of lipid therapy, and to evaluate whether all patients with an indication for a proprotein convertase subtisilin/kexin 9 inhibitor (PCSK9i) following acute coronary syndrome (ACS) were identified according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations.
We identified 167/7,048 patients with a total cholesterol of ≥7.2 mmol/L, of which 33 patients had previous vascular disease affecting more than one territory (polyvascular disease). Total cholesterol threshold ≥7.2 mmol/L was chosen in order to achieve a sufficient number of samples for the audit to be completed successfully. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level was performed in 93 patients on admission and repeated within three months in 20 patients (13%). Overall, 48 patients (30%) had any repeat LDL recorded. Of this group, 10 patients met the NICE criteria for PCSK9i.
Failure to repeat LDL levels in patients following hospital discharge with a diagnosis of ACS, is likely to explain the small number of patients identified as being eligible for PCSK9i. Underreporting of comorbid vascular disease also prevents the identification of patients at very high risk. We advocate re-establishing the practice of routine repeat fasting lipids measurement following discharge from hospital in order to correctly identify patients who may be eligible for optimal lipid-lowering therapy.
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