Nav: Home

Taking statins for heart disease cuts risk in half, yet only 6 percent of patients taking as directed

March 16, 2019

A new study has found that patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease cut their risk of a second major adverse cardiovascular event by almost 50 percent, if they adhere to taking a statin medication as prescribed by their doctors.

While that's good news for patients, the bad news, however, is that researchers from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City found that only about six percent of patients are in fact following the statin regimen given to them to lower their cholesterol, negating any potential cardiovascular benefits.

"A lot of clinical trials have shown that statins reduce the risk of secondary outcomes, so it's really important that they take these medications," said the study's principal investigator, Heidi May, PhD, principal investigator of the study, and cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute. "The surprising thing that we found is that so few patients, even within an insured population, just didn't take their statin medication as prescribed."

Results of the study were presented on March 16 at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

In the study, researchers identified 5,468 patients first diagnosed with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease between 1999 and 2013. These patients received a statin prescription to reduce their cholesterol within the first 12 months of diagnosis. Researchers then looked at two things: whether or not the patients took their medication, and how many major adverse clinical events (stroke, heart attack, or death) they had over the next five years.

They found that patients with optimal adherence -- who took their statins as prescribed at least 80 percent of the time -- reduced their risk of dying or having a heart attack or stroke by nearly 50 percent. Unfortunately, though, only 351 out of those 5,468 patients fell into the optimal adherence category -- which is about six percent.

Researchers also found that 25 percent of patients never filled their statin prescription in the first place, and 25 percent didn't fill their second one.

Researchers think there are several reasons for non-adherence, including a bias against statins, concern that they're already taking too many medications, worry about side-effects, the incorrect belief that after a few years on statins, they're cured and don't need to take them anymore, or they are just not that important.

The cost of the drugs is most likely not a factor, researchers say, since all of the patients in the study were enrolled in SelectHealth insurance, and the statins cost them only about $10 for a 90-day supply.

Dr. May believes the importance of taking statins could be lost in the abundance of information patients are given at discharge.

"During this time, patients most likely don't feel their best, they're probably scared about what just happened to them, and nervous about their future. They may not be able to process everything that's happening and how to best follow up," she said.

Dr. May added that the findings of the study should help caregivers see how crucial it is to ensure their patients who are being discharged understand the importance of the medication, and that continual education needs to be provided about the importance of taking their medications as prescribed.

"The patients should be asked about whether or not they're taking their statin at their follow-up appointments, especially soon after discharge," Dr. May said.

For the study, researchers from Intermountain Healthcare collaborated with The Medicines Company.

"This is important research to better understand the real-world treatment of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and to validate the benefits of statins as proven first-line therapy and the challenges associated with poor adherence," said Dr. May. "We appreciate our collaboration with The Medicines Company. They share our commitment to improving cardiovascular care for patients."
-end-
Study funding was provided by donors to the Intermountain Research and Medical Foundation.

Intermountain Medical Center

Related Heart Attack Articles:

Where you live could determine risk of heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease
People living in parts of Ontario with better access to preventive health care had lower rates of cardiac events compared to residents of regions with less access, found a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Activated T-cells drive post-heart attack heart failure
Chronic inflammation after a heart attack can promote heart failure and death.
ICU care for COPD, heart failure and heart attack may not be better
Does a stay in the intensive care unit give patients a better chance of surviving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure flare-up or even a heart attack, compared with care in another type of hospital unit?
Heart attack treatment might be in your face
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have received $2.4 million in federal funding to pursue research on a novel cell therapy that would repair heart damage using modified cells taken from the patient's own facial muscle.
Tissue engineering advance reduces heart failure in model of heart attack
Researchers have grown heart tissue by seeding a mix of human cells onto a 1-micron-resolution scaffold made with a 3-D printer.
Study shows functional effects of human stem cell delivery to heart muscle after heart attack
Researchers delivered human stem cells seeded in biological sutures to the damaged heart muscles of rats following induced acute myocardial infarction and assessed the effects on cardiac function one week later.
Younger heart attack survivors may face premature heart disease death
For patients age 50 and younger, the risk of premature death after a heart attack has dropped significantly, but their risk is still almost twice as high when compared to the general population, largely due to heart disease and other smoking-related diseases The risk of heart attack can be greatly reduced by quitting smoking, exercising and following a healthy diet.
After the heart attack: Injectable gels could prevent future heart failure (video)
During a heart attack, clots or narrowed arteries block blood flow, harming or killing cells in the heart.
Heart failure after first heart attack may increase cancer risk
People who develop heart failure after their first heart attack have a greater risk of developing cancer when compared to first-time heart attack survivors without heart failure, according to a study today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
1 in 4 patients develop heart failure within 4 years of first heart attack
One in four patients develop heart failure within four years of a first heart attack, according to a study in nearly 25,000 patients presented today at Heart Failure 2016 and the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure by Dr.

Related Heart Attack Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...