Disparities in statin use in minority populations persist regardless of insurance status and 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk.
Those are among the findings of a study that sampled a national population database and has provided robust data and granular details on those disparities.
The researchers reported in JAMA Cardiology that the overall prevalence of statin use was 25.5%, and that it varied significantly between defined ethnic groups: 20% for Blacks, 15.4% for Hispanics, and 27.9% for Whites (P < .001). Statin use rates by Asian participants, at 25.5%, didn’t differ significantly from use by Whites.
“We know that there are racial and ethnic disparities in the use of guideline-indicated statins after having established heart disease, but it was unknown if these disparities existed in the use of guideline-indicated statins for prevention of heart disease in those who just have risk factors,” lead author Joshua Jacobs, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist of cardiovascular medicine at University of Utah Intermountain Healthcare, said in written comments. “Additionally, race is included in the guideline-recommended risk factor calculation in an effort to reduce these disparities.”
Dr. Jacobs and colleagues evaluated statins for use in primary prevention, building upon previous single-center or diabetes-only cohort studies. What makes their study different from previous studies evaluating disparities in statin use is its use of temporal trends or current 10-year predicted ASCVD risk categorization, he said.
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the researchers performed a serial, cross-sectional analysis of 3,417 participants that they said represented 39.4 million U.S. adults after applying sampling weights for age, gender, and race and ethnicity. In the weighted sample, 62.2% were men. In terms of self-reported race and ethnicity, 4.2% were of Asian descent, 12.7% were Black, 10.1% were Hispanic, and 73% were White.
Study participants completed a standardized questionnaire given by trained interviewers and also went to mobile examination centers where physical, anthropomorphic, and laboratory measurements, including height, weight, LDL cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose were collected. Pill bottle review also verified participants’ self-reported medication use.
The study noted that for primary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), the 2018 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guideline recommends statins for, among other patient factors, elevated 10-year predicted ASCVD risk. The study divided ASCVD risk strata into three groups – 5% to less than 7.5%, 7.5% to less than 20%, and more than 20% – based on the 2018 ACC/AHA guideline and used pooled cohort equation to calculate 10-year ASCVD risk, which the guideline endorses.
Gaps persist despite ASCVD risk
The analysis found no statistically significant difference within each ASCVD risk strata between the White and Asian groups. But although statin use increased proportionately across each higher risk group, the gap widened noticeably in the highest risk group (more than 20% 10-year risk) between Whites, used as the reference at 37.6%, and Blacks (23.8%; prevalence ratio, .90; 95% confidence interval, .82-.98) and Hispanics (23.9%; PR, .90; 95% CI, .81-.99).
The study also evaluated a number of social determinants of health factors. Health insurance and access to routine health care were significantly associated with greater statin use in Black, Hispanic, and White participants; marital status and food insecurity were not. However, even when variables such as education, household income, and health insurance were applied, statin use was still significantly higher in Whites than in Blacks and Hispanics. For those with health insurance, statin use was 28.6% (95% CI, 25-32), 21.1% (95% CI, 17.3-25.4) and 19.9% (95% CI, 15.9-24.5), respectively.
The study noted that the pooled cohort equation-guided approach to statins for primary prevention, which the 2018 ACC/AHA guideline endorsed, should promote greater use of statins among Black patients. “Equitable use of statin therapy for prevention of heart disease is needed for Black and Hispanic adults,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Improvements in access to care, such as having a routine primary care clinician and health insurance, may decrease these health disparities.”
A goal of the study was to identify if disparities in statin use held up across different risk groups, senior author Ambarish Pandey, MD, said in an interview. Use of the NHANES data makes this study unique among analyses of statin use disparities, he said.
“A lot of the work that has been done previously has focused on secondary prevention among patients who have atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or have focused on single-center or hospital-based cohorts and have not really focused on a national representative cohort like NHANES,” said Dr. Pandey, of the UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.
The next step is to do community-based participatory research focusing on different implementation strategies to increase the uptake of preventive statin use among Black and Hispanic communities, Dr. Jacobs said.
Dr. Jacobs has no relevant relationships to disclose. Dr. Pandey disclosed relationships with Gilead Sciences, Applied Therapeutics, Myovista, Tricog Health, Eli Lilly, Cytokinetics, Rivus, Roche Diagnostics, Pieces Technologies, Palomarin, Emmi Solutions, and Axon.