Conference Coverage

Gender, racial disparities persist in statin use by ASCVD patients



– Statin use for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease increased modestly between 2008 and 2017 in the United States, but more than 40% of patients with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease are still not on a statin.

biostatistician with the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Baptist Health South Florida Center for Advanced Analytics Doug Brunk/MDedge News

Dr. Joseph A. Salami

In addition, even after release of the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults (Circulation. 2014;129:S1-45) that markedly increased the pool of eligible patients, disparities exist in the proportion of women versus men, and blacks and Hispanics versus whites with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) who are currently receiving a statin.

“Despite repeated calls for the use of statins for secondary prevention of CVD in multiple guidelines, gender and racial inequalities in the use of statins persist,” Joseph A. Salami, MD, MPH, said at the Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health meeting, sponsored by the American Heart Association. “Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2017, it was responsible for 647,457 deaths. We have an opportunity to improve CVD-related outcomes and cost by intensifying efforts to use statins for the secondary prevention of CVD and closing gender and racial gaps. Action is needed.”

Dr. Salami, a biostatistician with the Baptist Health South Florida Center for Advanced Analytics in Coral Gables, based his remarks on an analysis of data contained in the 2008-2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a national representative survey sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Between 2013 and 2018 there were six different guidelines released encouraging statin use among ASCVD patients,” he said. “Besides the good number needed to treat, statin use on secondary prevention of CVD is cost effective.”

Given the proven efficacy of statin use in the prevention of CVD, he and his associates set out to examine trends in the proportion of adults with ASCVD using statins and to assess for gender and racial differences in their use. The researchers used ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes to define ASCVD among the MEPS study population, as well as self-reported history of coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and stroke. After excluding adults aged younger than 40 years and those without ASCVD, this left a population of 15,911 patients. Of these, 44% were female, their mean age was 62 years, and 72% were Caucasian.

Overall, statin use increased from 50% in 2008 to 58.7% in 2017, with an average annual percentage change of 0.95% between 2010 and 2017 (P = .01). However, the annual percentage change in statin use was 0.25% among men versus 0.14% among women (P = .022). “Each year during the study period, more than 3 million women with ASCVD were not prescribed a statin, which translated into about 36 million adult-years,” Dr. Salami said. “In 2017, 16% of these women were African Americans and 15% were Hispanic.”

Logistic regression analysis revealed that in 2017, females with ASCVD were less likely to be prescribed a statin, compared with males (odds ratio, 0.52; P less than .001). In addition, compared with whites, blacks were less likely to be prescribed a statin (OR, 0.69; P = .012), as were Hispanics (OR, 0.62; P = .003). “In a multivariate logistic regression controlling for age, health insurance status, and comorbidities, the gender disparity remained statistically significant, but the racial disparity did not,” Dr. Salami said.

In an interview, one of the meeting session’s moderators, Sherry-Ann Brown, MD, PhD, characterized the study’s findings as sobering. “This should be an eye-opener for all of us in medicine, whether we are physicians, pharmacists, nurses, or researchers,” said Dr. Brown, who is a cardiologist and physician scientist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “We’re all in this together, and we all have a role to play in addressing social determinants of health. I think we need to recognize the fact that we’re not treating blacks, Hispanics, and women to the degree that we should be, compared to whites and men. I think we need to do better, and we need to figure out how to reach that population, and how to improve.”

Dr. Salami acknowledged certain limitations of the study, including the fact that MEPS was carried out in a noninstitutionalized adult population and that the definition of ASCVD was based partly on self-report. “Therefore, an underestimation of number adults with ASCVD is likely,” he said. “We also couldn’t determine adherence to medication nor long-term use of statins among adults with ASCVD.”

He concluded his presentation by noting that, over the 10-year study period, there were about 71.2 million ASCVD adult-years without a statin prescription. “That is a staggering number,” Dr. Salami said.

He reported having no financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Salami A et al. Epi/Lifestyle 2020, Abstract 4.

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