Background: Ezetimibe, a cholesterol-absorption inhibitor, reduces levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol when added to statin treatment. However, the effect of ezetimibe on the progression of atherosclerosis remains unknown. Methods: We conducted a double-blind, randomized, 24-month trial comparing the effects of daily therapy with 80 mg of simvastatin either with placebo or with 10 mg of ezetimibe in 720 patients with familial hypercholesterolemia. Patients underwent B-mode ultrasonography to assess the intima-media thickness of the walls of the carotid and femoral arteries. The primary outcome measure was the change in the mean carotid-artery intima-media thickness, which was defined as the average of the means of the far-wall intima-media thickness of the right and left common carotid arteries, carotid bulbs, and internal carotid arteries. Results: The primary outcome, the mean (±SE) change in the carotid-artery intima-media thickness, was 0.0058±0.0037 mm in the simvastatin-only group and 0.0111±0.0038 mm in the simvastatin-plus-ezetimibe (combined-therapy) group (P = 0.29). Secondary outcomes (consisting of other variables regarding the intima-media thickness of the carotid and femoral arteries) did not differ significantly between the two groups. At the end of the study, the mean (±SD) LDL cholesterol level was 192.7±60.3 mg per deciliter (4.98±1.56 mmol per liter) in the simvastatin group and 141.3±52.6 mg per deciliter (3.65±1.36 mmol per liter) in the combined-therapy group (a between-group difference of 16.5%, P<0.01). The differences between the two groups in reductions in levels of triglycerides and C-reactive protein were 6.6% and 25.7%, respectively, with greater reductions in the combined-therapy group (P<0.01 for both comparisons). Side-effect and safety profiles were similar in the two groups. Conclusions: In patients with familial hypercholesterolemia, combined therapy with ezetimibe and simvastatin did not result in a significant difference in changes in intima-media thickness, as compared with simvastatin alone, despite decreases in levels of LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein. ( number, NCT00552097.) Copyright,
New England Journal of Medicine
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kastelein, J., Akdim, F., Stroes, E., Zwinderman, A., Bots, M., Stalenhoef, A., … de Groot, E. (2008). Simvastatin with or without ezetimibe in familial hypercholesterolemia. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(14), 1431–1443. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0800742