Many Patients Stop Taking Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

WEDNESDAY Nov. 7, 2007 -- Even though cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are known to be effective, many patients stop taking them, and researchers say a number of factors may be to blame.

In their study, researchers in Chicago analyzed a large pharmacy's database.

They found that statin discontinuation rates among more than 768,000 patients were 28 percent after three months, 41 percent after six months, and 59 percent after one year.

"We found that subjects who were on high-dose statins, paid high co-payments, or spoke Spanish were significantly more likely to discontinue," said the investigators at Radiant Research Inc.

Patients who used the Internet, had heart disease or high blood pressure were significantly less likely to stop taking statins.

Taking steps to address problems such as side effects associated with high doses of statins, high co-payments, and language issues may help improve patients' long-term statin therapy compliance, the researchers suggested.

The study was to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

A second study to be presented at the same meeting found that, among American hypertension patients with increased risk of coronary artery disease, the time it took to bring "bad" low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol under control was much longer for all women and black men than for non-black men.

These disparities in risk reduction can likely be attributed to patient differences in access/adherence to lipid-lowering medication therapy, said the University of Pennsylvania researchers.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about cholesterol-lowering medications.

Posted: November 2007


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