Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) have a markedly increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Guidelines of both the American and Canadian Diabetes Associations recommend the use of aspirin as antiplatelet therapy for all adults with type 2 DM.
Objectives: The aims of this study were to assess the rate of adherence to guidelines for aspirin use in DM patients in rural Canadian communities and to describe the independent correlates of aspirin use in this population.
Methods: We collected information from a cohort of patients with type 2 DM living in 2 rural regions of northern Alberta, Canada, at the time of their enrollment in a multidisciplinary outreach program designed to improve their quality of care. Our primary outcome was self-reported use of antiplatelet therapy (aspirin or others). We use multivariate logistic regression analyses to examine the independent association between sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and self-reported use of antiplatelet agents.
Results: Among 342 patients included in the study (who were typical of rural Canadian patients with type 2 DM), the mean age was 62.9 years; 149 (44%) were men, 84 (25%) were of indigenous origin, and the median time since diagnosis of DM was 8 years. Despite guideline recommendations, only 23% of the cohort (78 patients) were regularly taking aspirin alone or in combination with a thienopyridine (n = 74 and n = 2, respectively) or a thienopyridine alone (n = 2). The results of them ultivariate analyses showed that the only factors independently associated with the use of antiplatelet therapy were symptomatic coronary artery disease (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 3.1; 95% CI, 1.1-8.7; P=0.033 ), older age (AOR, 2.0 per 10-year interval; 95% CI, 1.7-2.2; P<0.001 ); and male sex (AOR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.1-3.5; P=0.026 ).
Conclusions: Aspirin is a safe, inexpensive, and readily available therapy that is effective for preventing cardiovascular disease, and patients with type 2 DM are particularly likely to benefit from such preventive therapy. However, we found significant underuse of aspirin therapy among our study population. Aspirin should be included and better promoted as a factor in high-quality, evidence-based DM management.