The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase inhibitors competitively inhibit biosynthesis of mevalonate, a precursor of non-sterol compounds involved in cell proliferation. Experimental evidence suggests that fluvastatin may, independent of any lipid lowering action, exert a greater direct inhibitory effect on proliferating vascular myocytes than other statins. The FLARE (Fluvastatin Angioplasty Restenosis) Trial was conceived to evaluate the ability of fluvastatin 40mg twice daily to reduce restenosis after successful coronary balloon angioplasty (PTCA).
Patients were randomized to either placebo or fluvastatin 40mg twice daily beginning 2–4 weeks prior to planned PTCA and continuing after a successful PTCA (without the use of a stent), to follow-up angiography at 26±2 weeks. Clinical follow-up was completed at 40 weeks. The primary end-point was angiographic restenosis, measured by quantitative coronary angiography at a core laboratory, as the loss in minimal luminal diameter during follow-up. Clinical end-points were death, myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass graft surgery or re-intervetion, up to 40 weeks after PTCA.
Of 1054 patients randomized, 526 were allocated to fluvastatin and 528 to placebo. Among these, 409 in the fluvastatin group and 427 in the placebo group were included in the intention-to-treat analysis, having undergone a successful PTCA after a minimum of 2 weeks of pre-treatment. At the time of PTCA, fluvastatin had reduced LDL cholesterol by 37% and this was maintained at 33% at 26 weeks. There was no difference in the primary end-point between the treatment groups (fluvastatin 0·23±0·49mm vs placebo 0·23±0·52mm,P=0·95) or in the angiographic restenosis rate (fluvastatin 28%, placebo 31%, chi-squareP=0·42), or in the incidence of the composite clinical end-point at 40 weeks (22·4% vs 23·3%; logrankP=0·74). However, a significantly lower incidence of total death and myocardial infarction was observed in six patients (1·4%) in the fluvastatin group and 17 (4·0%) in the placebo group (log rankP=0·025).
Treatment with fluvastatin 80mg daily did not affect the process of restenosis and is therefore not indicated for this purpose. However, the observed reduction in mortality and myocardial infarction 40 weeks after PTCA in the fluvastatin treated group has not been previously reported with statin therapy. Accordingly, a priori investigation of this finding is indicated and a new clinical trial with this intention is already underway.