Background: Studies have examined the use of evidence-based therapies for coronary artery disease (CAD) in the short term and at hospital discharge, but few have evaluated long-term use.
Methods and results: Using the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Disease for the years 1995 to 2002, we determined the annual prevalence and consistency of self-reported use of aspirin, beta-blockers, lipid-lowering agents, and their combinations in all CAD patients and of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) in those with and without heart failure. Logistic-regression models identified characteristics associated with consistent use (reported on > or =2 consecutive follow-up surveys and then through death, withdrawal, or study end), and Cox proportional-hazards models explored the association of consistent use with mortality. Use of all agents and combinations thereof increased yearly. In 2002, 83% reported aspirin use; 61%, beta-blocker use; 63%, lipid-lowering therapy use; 54%, aspirin and beta-blocker use; and 39%, use of all 3. Consistent use was as follows: For aspirin, 71%; beta-blockers, 46%; lipid-lowering therapy, 44%; aspirin and beta-blockers, 36%; and all 3, 21%. Among patients without heart failure, 39% reported ACEI use in 2002; consistent use was 20%. Among heart failure patients, ACEI use was 51% in 2002 and consistent use, 39%. Except for ACEIs among patients without heart failure, consistent use was associated with lower adjusted mortality: Aspirin hazard ratio (HR), 0.58 and 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.54 to 0.62; beta-blockers, HR, 0.63 and 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.67; lipid-lowering therapy, HR, 0.52 and 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.65; all 3, HR, 0.67 and 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.77; aspirin and beta-blockers, HR, 0.61 and 95% CI, 0.57 to 0.65; and ACEIs among heart failure patients, HR, 0.75 and 95% CI, 0.67 to 0.84.
Conclusions: Use of evidence-based therapies for CAD has improved but remains suboptimal. Although improved discharge prescription of these agents is needed, considerable attention must also be focused on understanding and improving long-term adherence.