Long-term persistence in use of statin therapy in elderly patients

JAMA. 2002 Jul;288(4):455-61. doi: 10.1001/jama.288.4.455.


Context: Knowledge of long-term persistence with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor (statin) therapy is limited because previous studies have observed patients for short periods of time, in closely monitored clinical trials, or in other unrepresentative settings.

Objective: To describe the patterns and predictors of long-term persistence with statin therapy in an elderly US population.

Design, setting, and patients: Retrospective cohort study including 34 501 enrollees in the New Jersey Medicaid and Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled programs who were 65 years of age and older, initiated statin treatment between 1990 and 1998, and who were followed up until death, disenrollment, or December 31, 1999.

Main outcome measures: Proportion of days covered (PDC) by a statin in each quarter during the first year of therapy and every 6 months thereafter; predictors of suboptimal persistence during each interval (PDC <80%) were identified using generalized linear models for repeated measures.

Results: The mean PDC was 79% in the first 3 months of treatment, 56% in the second quarter, and 42% after 120 months. Only 1 patient in 4 maintained a PDC of at least 80% after 5 years. The proportion of patients with a PDC less than 80% increased in a log-linear manner, comprising 40%, 61%, and 68% of the cohort after 3, 12, and 120 months, respectively. Independent predictors of poor long-term persistence included nonwhite race, lower income, older age, less cardiovascular morbidity at initiation of therapy, depression, dementia, and occurrence of coronary heart disease events after starting treatment. Patients who initiated therapy between 1996-1998 were 21% to 25% more likely to have a PDC of at least 80% than those who started in 1990.

Conclusions: Persistence with statin therapy in older patients declines substantially over time, with the greatest drop occurring in the first 6 months of treatment. Despite slightly better persistence among patients who began treatment in recent years, long-term use remains low. Interventions are needed early in treatment and among high-risk groups, including those who experience coronary heart disease events after initiating treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents