Is the high-risk strategy to prevent cardiovascular disease equitable? A pharmacoepidemiological cohort study

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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Statins are increasingly prescribed to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) in asymptomatic individuals. Yet, it is unknown whether those at higher CVD risk - i.e. individuals in lower socio-economic position (SEP) - are adequately reached by this high-risk strategy. Aim: To examine whether the Danish implementation of the strategy to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) by initiating statin (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor) therapy in high-risk individuals is equitable across socioeconomic groups. METHODS: Design: Cohort study. Setting and participants: Applying individual-level nationwide register information on socio-demographics, dispensed prescription drugs and hospital discharges, all Danish citizens aged 20+ without previous register-markers of CVD, diabetes or statin therapy were followed during 2002-2006 for first occurrence of myocardial infarction (MI) and a dispensed statin prescription (N=3.3 mill). Main outcome measures: Stratified by gender, 5-year age-groups and socioeconomic position (SEP), incidence of MI was applied as a proxy for statin need. Need-standardised statin incidence rates were calculated, applying MI incidence rate ratios (IRR) as need-weights to adjust for unequal needs across SEP. Horizontal equity in initiating statin therapy was tested by means of Poisson regression analysis. Applying the need-standardised statin parameters and the lowest SEP-group as reference, a need-standardised statin IRR>1 translates into horizontal inequity favouring the higher SEP-groups. RESULTS: MI incidence decreased with increasing SEP without a parallel trend in incidence of statin therapy. According to the regression analyses, the need-standardised statin incidence increased in men aged 40-64 by 17%, IRR 1.17 (95% CI: 1.14-1.19) with each increase in income quintile. In women the proportion was 23%, IRR 1.23 (1.16-1.29). An analogous pattern was seen applying education as SEP indicator and among subjects aged 65-84. CONCLUSION: The high-risk strategy to prevent CVD by initiating statin therapy seems to be inequitable, reaching primarily high-risk subjects in lower risk SEP-groups.
Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Public Health
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)610
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ID: 40343138