South Asian patients are missing out on cholesterol drugs

July 04, 2002

Patients in general practices with a greater South Asian population are less likely to be prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs, despite being at a higher risk of coronary heart disease than white patients, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers identified the proportion of South Asian patients at 62 general practices in one health authority in England. They then determined the number of daily doses of all cholesterol lowering drugs prescribed to these patients.

They found that patients in practices with a greater South Asian population were less likely to receive cholesterol lowering drugs.

It was not possible for the authors to ascertain the incidence of coronary heart disease in the practices studied. However, this finding is surprising, they say, given the higher level of cardiovascular illness and death among South Asian people in the UK, and an equal if not greater need for cholesterol lowering treatment than the white population.

Further analysis is needed to ascertain the effects of subsequent prescribing guidelines and recent government strategies promoting the use of cholesterol lowering drugs, say the authors. Assessment to determine the extent of unmet need and risk profiles at the level of the individual patient, with particular reference to South Asian patients, is also required.
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BMJ

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