COLUMBUS, Ohio – A family medicine researcher at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center says many people at high risk for cardiovascular events, including those with coronary artery disease or diabetes, are not receiving statins despite evidence that these agents reduce adverse events. Statins are medications used to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood, which can reduce risk of future heart attacks.
“We believe this under treatment is related to guidelines placing too much emphasis on cholesterol, and not enough emphasis on cardiovascular risk,” said Dr. Michael Johansen, assistant professor of clinical family medicine at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
The study titled “Cardiovascular Risk and Statin Use in the United States” was published in the May/June 2014 issue of Annals of Family Medicine.
Following the 2013 release of new guidelines by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association that substantially broadened the criteria for recommending statin use, Johansen and a team of researchers analyzed nationally-representative data and found an estimated 9 million people with diabetes over age 40 and 5.6 million people with coronary artery disease were not taking statins. Both groups were among populations that have been shown to benefit from statin medications.
“The goal is to get more individuals with high-risk conditions on statins, which are locally available for free,” said Johansen.
Statins have proven to be effective medications for reducing the risk of death and future cardiovascular disease in those with known coronary heart disease and individuals with high cardiovascular risk. The authors conclude that the recently released ACC-AHA guidelines offer an opportunity to reframe statins as medications that reduce cardiovascular risk rather than as medications that lower cholesterol.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, killing about 600,000 Americans each year.
Other authors of this study include Lee Green, MD, MS, University of Alberta, Ananda Sen, PhD, University of Michigan, Sheetal Kircher, MD, MS, Northwestern University, and Caroline Richardson, MD, MS, University of Michigan.
Contact: Alexis Shaw, Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations, 614-293-3737 or Alexis.Shaw2@osumc.edu