Phytosterols for dyslipidemia

Malinowski, Jennifer M.; Gehret, Monica M.
July 2010
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;7/15/2010, Vol. 67 Issue 14, p1165
Academic Journal
Purpose. The efficacy and safety of phytosterols for the management of dyslipidemia are reviewed. Summary. Phytosterols have been evaluated in over 40 clinical trials. The incorporation of 2 g of phytosterols daily into margarine, mayonnaise, orange juice, olive oil, low-fat milk, yogurt, and tablets is associated with significant reductions in lowdensity- lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from baseline over 1-12 months in adults with normal or high cholesterol, in children, and in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Phytosterol dosages of 1.6-3 g daily have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol by 4.1-15% versus placebo within the first month of therapy. One meta-analysis found mean reductions of 10-11%, but results vary. Several placebo-controlled trials found that the addition of phytosterols to statin therapy was associated with reductions of 7-20% in LDL cholesterol for up to 1.5 years. Overall, phytosterols are useful for reducing LDL cholesterol in patients who cannot reach their treatment goal by diet alone or who are taking maximum tolerated doses of statins. These products offer an alternative to statins in patients who cannot take statins or whose statin dosage is restricted because of potential drug interactions or concomitant diseases. Commonly reported adverse effects are primarily gastrointestinal in nature. Conclusion. Phytosterol therapy produces an average 10-11% reduction in LDL cholesterol concentration, but it is unknown whether this effect persists beyond two years. Phytosterol products are well tolerated and have few drug interactions, but their long-term safety has not been established. Current evidence is sufficient to recommend phytosterols for lowering LDL cholesterol in adults.


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