Objective: The beneficial effect of lipid-lowering drugs (LLDs) is well documented. Despite increasing sales of LLDs, little is known about what characterizes LLD users. Our objective was to describe LLD users in a general population according to socio-demographic factors, cardiovascular risk factors and coronary heart disease (CHD), and to study the achievement of cholesterol treatment goals according to national guidelines.
Methods: The Tromso study is a population-based study of chronic diseases, risk factors and drug use in the municipality Tromso, in north Norway. The fifth survey was conducted in 2001 and included 7,973 men and women (attendance rate 78.1%). Self-reported use of LLDs and/or proprietary LLDs was included as LLD use in the analysis.
Results: LLD use was reported in 9.6% of all women and 14.0% of all men, of whom 36.5% achieved the nationally recommended lipid goal. Among individuals with CHD, 49.9% of all women and 55.4% of all men were LLD users. The individuals with a risk condition (hypertension and/or diabetes) and total cholesterol level above the target of 5.0 mmol/l and the healthy individuals with total cholesterol level >/=8.0 mmol/l constituted 47.2% of the study population without CHD. In this group, which was eligible for primary prevention, 8.0% of the women and 7.4% of the men reported LLD use.
Conclusions: Only half of all subjects with CHD were taking a LLD. The large discrepancy between national recommendations and actual LLD use in primary prevention should be addressed in future revisions of the guidelines.