Persistence and determinants of statin therapy among middle-aged patients for primary and secondary prevention

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 May;59(5):564-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2005.02355.x.


Aims: Statins have been shown to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), and also in patients with dyslipidaemia when statins are taken regularly. Middle-aged patients have the highest level of forecasting benefit and little is known about persistence rate of these therapies in a real-life setting. The objective was to evaluate the persistence rate of middle-aged patients initiating a statin therapy and its relation with several determinants for primary and secondary prevention.

Methods: A cohort was reconstructed using the RAMQ databases. All patients aged 50-64 years-old who received at least one statin prescription between 1 January, 1998 and 31 December, 2000 for a new intention of treatment for dyslipidaemia were included in the cohort and followed up until 30 June, 2001. The date of the first prescription of statin was defined as the index date. There were 4316 patients in the secondary prevention (CAD diagnosis) and 13,642 patients in primary prevention cohort. The cumulative persistence rate was estimated using Kaplan-Meier, and Cox regression models were used to estimate the hazard ratio of ceasing statins.

Results: We found that persistence with statins had fallen to 71% after 6 months of treatment, and had declined to 45% after 3 years in the secondary prevention cohort; the corresponding figures were 65% and 35% in the primary prevention cohort. Our results suggest that patients with dyslipidaemia in primary prevention compared with those in secondary prevention (HR: 1.18; 1.11-1.25) are less likely to be persistent. Patients with other cardiovascular risk factors such as age (HR: 0.99; 0.98-0.99), diabetes (HR: 0.84; 0.79-0.90), hypertension (HR: 0.76; 0.72-0.80) were most likely to be persistent with statins. We observed lower persistence in patients who have used the greatest number of pharmacies and prescribing physicians.

Conclusion: This analysis indicates that barriers to persistence occur early in the therapeutic course. Overall persistence with statins is low, and particularly among patients with few other cardiovascular risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hyperlipidemias / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors