Retrospective review of sex differences in the management of dyslipidemia in coronary heart disease: an analysis of patient data from a Maryland-based health maintenance organization

Clin Ther. 2006 Apr;28(4):591-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2006.04.012.


Background: Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, with a higher mortality in women, despite a lower prevalence. Statins effectively treat dyslipidemia and reduce the risk of CHD mortality.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the treatment of dyslipidemia in patients with CHD and determine if sex differences exist.

Methods: This was a retrospective chart review performed within a multioffice staff model health maintenance organization of approximately 70,000 members. An administrative database, containing inpatient and out-patient medical claims, was used to identify patients with CHD based on diagnostic codes. Charts were randomly selected and the following information was obtained from chart review: age; sex; risk factors for CHD; diagnosis and/or prescription for depression; blood low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level; and drug, dosage, and duration of prescribed lipid-lowering therapy. Exclusion criteria included missing charts and unavailable LDL-C values. LDL-C values were classified as at target if LDL-C<2.59 mmol/L (<100 mg/dL). Patients receiving statin monotherapy were categorized into 3 potency groups, based on efficacy to lower LDL-C values: high (atorvastatin 20-80 mg, lovastatin 80 mg), medium (atorvastatin 10 mg, pravastatin 40 mg, simvastatin 200 mg), and low (fluvastatin 10-40 mg, lovastatin 10-40 mg, pravastatin 10-20 mg, simvastatin 5-10 mg).

Results: A total of 1487 adult patients (64.4% male with a mean (SD) age of 65.7 (11.8) years were identified, based on diagnostic codes for CHD. Three hundred twenty charts were selected for review. After exclusion, the final study cohort was 290 patients. The cohort was 66.2% male (192/290) with no significant difference in mean (SD) age between men (65.2 [9.2] years) and women (66.9 [10.5] years). Weight of women ranged from 85 to 305 lbs; 134 to 288 lbs for men. Among the study cohort, 46.2% (134/290) of the patients achieved the target LDL-C of <2.59 mmol/L (<100 mg/dL), with significantly more men (51.0% [98/192]) than women (36.7% [36/98]) reaching target (P=0.021). Lipid-lowering therapy was prescribed to 68.6% (199/290) of the patients, with no significant sex differences (men, 71.4% [137/192]; women, 63.3% [62/98]). Of the patients prescribed lipid-lowering therapy (primarily statins), 53.8% (107/199) achieved target LDL-C. There was no significant sex difference in the potency groups prescribed, and the rate of LDL-C target attainment was similar across potency groups. Overall, 70.3% of patients who did not receive lipid-lowering therapy had inadequately controlled LDL-C (women, 31/36 [86.1%]; men, 33/55 [60.0%] [P=0.008]).

Conclusions: The majority of CHD patients from a Maryland-based health maintenance organization had elevated LDL-C values, despite a lipid-lowering prescription rate of 68.6%. A significant gap in dyslipidemia treatment in these CHD patients remained, particularly for women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / complications*
  • Coronary Disease / mortality
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Dyslipidemias / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Infarction / psychology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hypolipidemic Agents