Conference Coverage

Clinicians underusing statins, aspirin in HIV patients



– Clinicians may not be prescribing enough statins and/or aspirin therapy for the HIV-infected population at highest risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, according to the results of a large retrospective study from an HIV clinic in New York.

“We need to shift our paradigm for care – from ‘take antiretrovirals and that’s it’ – to a focus on the whole patient and chronic conditions,” Emma Kaplan-Lewis, MD, said during a poster presentation at an annual scientific meeting on infectious diseases. Risk of cardiovascular events increases 1.5-fold among people with HIV treated with antiretroviral therapy, compared with the uninfected population, she noted.

Dr. Emma Kaplan-Lewis Damian McNamara/Frontline Medical News

Dr. Emma Kaplan-Lewis

Dr. Kaplan-Lewis and her colleagues assessed 1,150 people with HIV infection who received primary care at least twice annually, starting July 1, 2014, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York. Their review of electronic medical records further identified 231 people – or 20% – confirmed at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

The investigators examined prescriptions for a statin or aspirin therapy in three high-risk groups, defined by 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines and 2011 AHA/American College of Cardiology Foundation guidelines. They classified patients with an ICD-9 code indicating a history of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, 40- to 75-year-olds with diabetes and LDL cholesterol greater than 70 mg/dL, and those with an LDL cholesterol level greater than 190 mg/dL.

Almost two-thirds of the higher-risk patients, 141 (61%), had a history of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In this cohort, 56% were prescribed statin therapy, and 100 (71%) were prescribed aspirin.

Of the 85 high-risk patients with diabetes and an LDL greater than 70 mg/dL, 48 (57%) were on statin therapy (aspirin not indicated), and of the 5 high-risk patients with an LDL cholesterol level greater than 190 mg/dL, 3 (60%) were on statin therapy, and 1 (20%) was on aspirin.

The investigators also found 37% of the higher-risk patients were active cigarette smokers. There was a trend toward lower statin use among smokers, 33% versus 44% for nonsmokers. “Smoking was not significantly associated with statin prescription, but this is a modifiable risk factor – after which they may not need a statin,” Dr. Kaplan-Lewis said.

The findings support risk-reduction interventions for people with HIV infection who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, Dr. Kaplan-Lewis said. The results support previous reports in the literature, including a study that found 51% of 13,579 veterans infected with HIV had an indication for statin use, but 22% of this group was not prescribed the therapy (Clin Infect Dis. 2016;63:407-13. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw289).

In 2017, the investigators plan to share the study data with providers. “Each provider will get a list of their patients who should be on a statin. This is about awareness and making it more of a priority,” Dr. Kaplan-Lewis said at the combined annual meetings of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

The findings of additional research assessing lower thresholds for statin use among people with HIV infection are still pending, Dr. Kaplan-Lewis added.

The study was supported in part by the New York State Department of Health Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program. Dr. Kaplan-Lewis had no relevant disclosures.

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