Mean plasma lipid values in 100 patients who survived >3 months after heart transplantation increased significantly at 3 months over pretransplantation values: total cholesterol from 168 ± 7 to 234 ± 7 mg/dl, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from 111 ± 6 to 148 ± 6 mg/dl, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol from 34 ± 1 to 47 ± 1 mg/dl and triglycerides from 107 ± 6 to 195 ± 10 mg/dl. There were no significant increases after this time. The LDL cholesterol values remained ≥130 mg/dl in 64% of patients and triglyceride values remained ≥200 mg/dl in 41% of patients 6 months after postoperative dietary instructions. Beginning in 1985, select patients whose total cholesterol values remained >300 mg/dl despite 6 months of dietary intervention were treated with lovastatin given alone in a high dose (40 to 80 mg/day) or in combination with another hypolipidemic agent. Four of the five patients so treated developed rhabdomyolysis; two of the four had acute renal failure. Beginning in 1988, a second protocol-lovastatin at 20 mg/day as monotherapy-was used in patients who despite dietary intervention had total cholesterol > 240 mg/dl (mean follow-up 13 months). In the 15 patients so treated, mean total cholesterol decreased from 299 ± 10 mg/dl before treatment with lovastatin to 235 ± 9 mg/dl during treatment (21% reduction, p < 0.001) and mean LDL cholesterol was reduced from a baseline value of 190 ± 10 to 132 ± 12 mg/dl during treatment (31% reduction, p < 0.001). In this study, lovastatin at a dose of ≤29 mg/day as monotherapy was a well tolerated, effective treatment for hyperlipidemia after heart transplantation. It did not result in rhabdomyolysis and required no alteration in immunosuppressive therapy. However, the dose should not exceed 20 mg/day and combination therapy with either gemfibrozil or nicotinic acid should be avoided, even if the target LDL cholesterol value is not reached.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine