Adherence to statin treatment and health outcomes in an Italian cohort of newly treated patients: results from an administrative database analysis

Clin Ther. 2012 Jan;34(1):190-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2011.12.011.


Background: Adherence to statin treatment is expected to be associated with health outcomes. Much of the available evidence is derived from studies conducted on selected populations (eg, Medicaid population), on specific cohorts of patients (eg, patients with diabetes mellitus or those who have experienced acute myocardial infarction [AMI]), or with respect to a single outcome (eg, only death or only AMI).

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between adherence to statin therapy and all-cause mortality and cardiovascular morbidity (AMI and stroke) in an unselected cohort of newly treated patients.

Methods: We performed a population-based retrospective cohort study that included adult patients with a first prescription of a statin from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2006, using data from the administrative databases of the Local Health Unit of Florence in Italy. Adherence to statin treatment was estimated as the proportion of days covered (PDC) by filled prescriptions and classified as low (PDC, 21%-40%), intermediate-low (PDC, 41%-60%), intermediate-high (PDC, 61%-80%), and high (PDC, >80%). Cases with PDC ≤20% were excluded. A Cox regression model was used to investigate the association between adherence to treatment and all-cause mortality and hospitalization for AMI or stroke.

Results: The cohort consisted of 19,232 patients (9823 men and 9409 women) aged 18 to 102 years (mean [SD], 66.5 [11.4] years): 20.1% had been previously hospitalized for cardiovascular events and 17.6% had been treated with hypoglycemic drugs. Adherence to statins was low in 4427 patients (23.0%), intermediate-low in 3117 (16.2%), intermediate-high in 3784 (19.7%), and high in 7904 (41.1%). Lower-adherent patients were younger and had fewer comorbidities compared with higher-adherent patients. In our multivariable analyses, high adherence was significantly associated with decreased risk of all-cause death, AMI, or stroke. Compared with low adherence (hazard ratio [HR] = 1), the risk was lower in intermediate-low adherence (HR = 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.71-0.98; P < 0.05) and much lower in intermediate-high (HR = 0.60; 95% CI, 0.51-0.70; P < 0.001) and high adherence (HR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.54-0.71; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: In this Italian cohort of newly treated patients, suboptimal adherence to statins occurred in a substantial proportion of patients and was associated with increased risk of adverse health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Databases as Topic
  • Dyslipidemias / complications
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Dyslipidemias / mortality
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors