Objective: To determine whether there are racial differences in adherence to cardiac medications.
Design: Retrospective analysis.
Patients: African-American and white male veterans aged 45 years or older who had received any of four groups of drugs: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), beta-blockers (BBs), calcium channel blockers (CCBs,) or HMG CoA (hydroxymethyl glutaryl coenzyme A) reductase inhibitors (statins).
Data: Administrative records were used to identify eligible veterans and their demographic characteristics, medical diagnoses, and medication use. We used a standard measure of adherence to medications based on whether the veteran obtained enough drug to take it as prescribed on 80% of the days.
Results: We identified 833 eligible African-American and 4436 eligible white veterans. In univariable analysis, African Americans were less likely to be adherent to medications than whites for ACEIs (81.4% versus 87.6%, P = 0.004), CCBs (75.3% versus 81.7%, P = 0.003), and statins (59.9% versus 74.1%, P < 0.001) but not BBs (84.8% versus 83.5%, P = 0.6). In multivariable analysis, racial differences in adherence to medications were found primarily among veterans younger than 55 years old.
Conclusions: Younger African Americans were less adherent to medications than whites in a setting where financial barriers are minimized. Although the reason for this finding is unclear, it may contribute to high cardiovascular morbidity among African Americans.