Nearly one-fourth of patients with obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) are not being treated with a statin drug, despite the overwhelming evidence of benefit. Further, over one-fifth of such patients are not on any lipid-lowering therapy at all, according to the results of a new study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers from St. Luke s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City analyzed data from over 38,000 outpatients with a history of heart attack or coronary revascularization and found that, although the majority received either a statin or another lipid-lowering medication, over 6,500 patients remained untreated.
These results, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, are simply unacceptable. As the study points out, statin use is associated with a 20 percent relative risk reduction for recurrent cardiac events across a range of baseline LDL cholesterol levels. The authors also note that the real figures chronicling undertreatment may be even worse among the general population, since the patients selected for the current study came from medical practices that are highly motivated toward quality improvement.
Doctors who don t prescribe statins to patients with CAD are akin to those irresponsible physicians who don t advise their smoking patients to quit, adds Dr. Ross. I guess these results demonstrate that, although some people hold a medical license, they ve forgotten how to actually practice medicine.
Beyond just lowering lipid levels, statins also possess general anti-inflammatory properties that enhance their efficacy in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events that s why ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan can t understand why such a powerful and effective drug that s so readily available isn t used by all of those who need it.