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In this analysis of data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, individuals with lipoprotein(a) levels greater than 50 mg/dL experienced a higher rate of coronary heart disease (CHD) events. After propensity score matching, aspirin use in this subpopulation was associated with a 46% reduction in CHD events compared with nonuse.
These findings suggest that aspirin use may be associated with a lower rate of CHD events among individuals with elevated lipoprotein(a) levels. Prospective analyses may be needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of this approach.
Effective therapies for reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in people with elevated lipoprotein(a) are lacking, especially for primary prevention. Because of the potential association of lipoprotein(a) with thrombosis, we evaluated the relationship between aspirin use and CVD events in people with elevated lipoprotein(a).
METHODS AND RESULTS
We used data from the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), a prospective cohort study of individuals free of baseline cardiovascular disease. Due to potential confounding by indication, we matched aspirin users to nonusers using a propensity score based on CVD risk factors. We then evaluated the association between aspirin use and coronary heart disease (CHD) events (CHD death, nonfatal myocardial infarction) stratified by baseline lipoprotein(a) level (threshold of 50 mg/dL) using Cox proportional hazards models with adjustment for CVD risk factors. After propensity matching, the study cohort included 2183 participants, including 1234 (57%) with baseline aspirin use and 423 (19%) with lipoprotein(a) >50 mg/dL. Participants with lipoprotein(a) >50 mg/dL had a higher burden of CVD risk factors, more frequent aspirin use (61.7% versus 55.3%, P=0.02), and higher rate of incident CHD events (13.7% versus 8.9%, P<0.01). Aspirin was associated with a significant reduction in CHD events among those with elevated lipoprotein(a) (hazard ratio, 0.54 [95% CI, 0.32-0.94]; P=0.03). Those with lipoprotein(a) >50 mg/dL and aspirin use had similar CHD risk as those with lipoprotein(a) ≤50 mg/dL regardless of aspirin use.
Aspirin use was associated with a significantly lower risk for CHD events in participants with lipoprotein(a) >50 mg/dL without baseline CVD. The results of this observational propensity-matched study require confirmation in studies with randomization of aspirin use.