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Developing Novel Treatments to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

Despite advances in care and treatment, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the number one cause of death worldwide.1 The prevalence of CVD is expected to increase due to an aging population2 as well as rising rates of other diseases that put people at risk of CVD, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.3 Even after receiving treatment with statins (commonly used treatments that help lower cholesterol in the blood), many people with CVD are still at risk of life-threatening complications like heart attack or stroke.4,5 Harnessing our legacy and expertise, Pfizer aims to help address these gaps in CVD treatment through the development of new medicines that can meaningfully reduce CV risk for patients.

View more information about our CVD pipeline below.

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes multiple conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. CVD accounts for an estimated 17.8 million deaths each year globally, including an estimated 655,000 in the United States.6,7 The most common type of CVD is atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD).3 Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque, made up of fats and cholesterol, builds up in the walls of arteries, making them narrow and more difficult for blood to pass through to critical organs.3

  • There are several risk factors for CVD. About half of Americans have at least one of three key risk factors for CVD, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.8 Diseases like diabetes and obesity can also put people at higher risk for CVD.6 In addition, lifestyle choices, including unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use, can increase risk of CVD.6

  • CVD may not be diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack or heart failure.9 Some people may have symptoms, such as chest pain or numbness, but these can vary widely.10

  • A healthcare provider can diagnose CVD based on symptoms, medical and family history, risk factors, blood pressure readings, and lipid levels.11 There are also tests a healthcare provider can perform, such as an echocardiogram, or a stress test, that will help them learn about the type and severity of the disease and to determine the best treatment plan.11

  • There are several lifestyle factors that people can manage to potentially reduce their risk or help prevent CVD, including having a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, and not smoking.6 There are also pharmacological treatments available, like statins and a newer class of medicines called PCSK9 inhibitors, that focus on lowering low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C, also known as the “bad cholesterol”).12 However, even when LDL-C is significantly lowered using these treatments, many people remain at risk for CV events like heart attack or stroke.13

    There is growing evidence that another type of cholesterol, known as non-high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (non-HDL-C), may be a better predictor of CV risk than LDL-C alone.14,15 Non-HDL-C is total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol, also known as “good cholesterol.”16 In other words, non-HDL-C comprises all of the “bad” types of cholesterol. Pfizer scientists are working to develop novel treatment approaches to help lower levels of non-HDL-C and meaningfully reduce CV risk for patients.

Cardiovascular Disease is a focus of our Heart/Cardiovascular Therapeutic Area.

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We proudly partner with thousands of study sites and tens of thousands of trial participants around the world. It's these clinical trials that lead to life-changing medicines.

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1 Joseph P, Leong D, McKee M, et al. Reducing the Global Burden of Cardiovascular Disease, Part 1: The Epidemiology and Risk Factors. Circ Res. 2017;121(6):677-694. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.117.308903

2 Pandya A, et al. More Americans living longer with cardiovascular disease will increase costs while lowering quality of life. Health Aff (Millwood). 2013;Oct;32(10):1706-1714.

3 American Heart Association. Cardiovascular Disease: A Costly Burden for America Projections Through 2035. Accessed August 11, 2020

4 Vanuzzo, Diego. “The epidemiological concept of residual risk.” Internal and emergency medicine vol. 6 Suppl 1 (2011): 45-51. doi:10.1007/s11739-011-0669-5

5 Sampson, Uchechukwu K et al. “Residual cardiovascular risk despite optimal LDL cholesterol reduction with statins: the evidence, etiology, and therapeutic challenges.” Current atherosclerosis reports vol. 14,1 (2012): 1-10. doi:10.1007/s11883-011-0219-7.

6 Virani S, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2020 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2020;141:e139–e596.

7 Deaths: Final Data for 2017. National Vital Statistics Reports; Vol. 68 No. 9. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.

8 Fryar CD, et al. Prevalence of Uncontrolled Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease: United States, 1999-2010. Accessed September 24, 2020.

9 Makrilakis, Konstantinos, and Stavros Liatis. “Cardiovascular Screening for the Asymptomatic Patient with Diabetes: More Cons Than Pros.” Journal of diabetes research vol. 2017 (2017): 8927473. doi:10.1155/2017/8927473

10 Awad A, Al-Nafisi H. Public knowledge of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in Kuwait: a cross-sectional survey. BMC Public Health. 2014 Nov 4;14:1131. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-1131. PMID: 25367768; PMCID: PMC4237772.

11 Arnett DK et al. 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019 Sep, 74 (10) e177-e232.

12 Puri R, et al. Non-HDL Cholesterol and Triglycerides: Implications for Coronary Atheroma Progression and Clinical Events. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2016;36:2220-2228. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.116.307601.

13 Sabatine et al. Evolocumab and Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease. N Engl J Med 2017; 376:1713-1722. Doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1615664.

14 Langlois MR, et al. Quantifying Atherogenic Lipoproteins: Current and Future Challenges in the Era of Personalized Medicine and Very Low Concentrations of LDL Cholesterol. A Consensus Statement from EAS and EFLM. Clin Chem. 2018;64(7):1006-1033.

15 Kastelein J, et al. Lipids, Apolipoproteins, and Their Rations in Relation to Cardiovascular Events With Statin Therapy. Circulation. 2008; 117 (23):3002–3009.

16 Virani, Salim S. “Non-HDL cholesterol as a metric of good quality of care: opportunities and challenges.” Texas Heart Institute journal vol. 38,2 (2011): 160-2.