A national survey on aspirin patterns of use and persistence in community outpatients in Italy

Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2011 Oct;18(5):695-703. doi: 10.1177/1741826710397850. Epub 2011 Mar 1.


Background: Aspirin is recommended as preventive therapy in patients with cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes mellitus, and high cardiovascular risk due to multiple risk factors. However, the benefits of aspirin might be affected by its inappropriate use. Real-life information on aspirin use is therefore needed as an audit tool aimed to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.

Design: Retrospective cross-sectional and cohort study.

Methods: Primary care data were obtained from 400 Italian general practitioners (GPs) providing information to the Health Search/CDS Longitudinal Patients Database. Prevalence of use was assessed in individuals aged 18 years and older, registered in the GP's list at the beginning of the observation period (year 2005). As potential correlates of aspirin use, clinical and demographic variables were also recorded. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to assess the relationship between such covariates and aspirin use. Persistence to aspirin treatment was examined among newly prescribed aspirin users during the years 2000-04.

Results: On a total sample of 540,984 patients, 45,271 (8.3%) were prescribed at least once with aspirin. On 35,473 patients with previous CVD, 51.7% were treated with aspirin, whereas only 15.2% of 151,526 eligible patients free of CVD received an aspirin prescription. In primary prevention, prevalence of aspirin use was significantly associated with the increased number of cardiovascular risk factors either among diabetic (p < 0.001) or non-diabetic (p < 0.001) patients. A negative association has been observed among patients with contraindication to aspirin use. Only 23.4% of patients at 1 year and 12.2% at 2 years remained persistent with aspirin use, although most of first-time users reported an intermittent use.

Conclusion: Underuse and discontinuation of aspirin treatment is common among eligible patients. Increased cardiovascular risk only partially influences aspirin management. An effort aimed to improve appropriate aspirin use is likely to provide major benefits.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aspirin / adverse effects
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Agents / adverse effects
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / statistics & numerical data
  • Italy
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Preventive Health Services / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Cardiovascular Agents
  • Aspirin