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Real-life evaluation of European and American high-risk strategies for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in patients with first myocardial infarction
  1. Martin B Mortensen,
  2. Erling Falk
  1. Atherosclerosis Research Unit, Department of Cardiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Martin B Mortensen; Martin.bodtker.mortensen{at}


Objective To determine the detection rate (sensitivity) of the high-risk strategy recommended in the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE/UK) and American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guidelines on cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. In particular, to evaluate the ability to ensure statin therapy to contemporary Europeans destined for a first myocardial infarction (MI).

Design 393 consecutive statin-naïve, CVD-free patients without diabetes hospitalised for a first MI, 247 of whom were 40–75 years of age. We assumed they had undergone a health check the day before their MI and estimated the predicted risk.

Primary outcome Sensitivity of the risk-based eligibility for primary prevention with statins recommended by the guidelines.

Results All recommended risk scores rank-ordered patients similarly, but the sensitivity of the cut point above which statin therapy should be considered differed substantially. In younger patients (age 40–60), 62% of men and 13% of women qualified for statin therapy by ACC/AHA criteria, compared with only 2% of men and no women using the ESC criteria recommended for most non-Eastern European countries. In those 60–75 years of age, the ACC/AHA guidelines captured all men and 85% of women, compared with 12% and 2%, respectively, using the new ESC guideline. This guideline restricted the eligibility for primary prevention with statins substantially by reclassifying many European countries from ‘high-risk’ to ‘low-risk’, whereas the eligibility was expanded in the ACC/AHA and the new NICE/UK guidelines by lowering the decision threshold.

Conclusions The 2012 ESC guidelines differ substantially from the 2013 ACC/AHA and 2014 NICE/UK guidelines in ability to secure statin therapy to those destined for a first MI. A great opportunity for primary prevention with statins remains unexploited in Europe.


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