Cross-sectional analysis of the prevalence and predictors of statin utilisation in Ireland with a focus on primary prevention of cardiovascular disease

BMJ Open. 2018 Feb 8;8(2):e018524. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018524.


Objective: To describe the prevalence of statin utilisation by people aged over 50 years in Ireland and the factors associated with the likelihood of using a statin, focusing particularly on those using statins for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods: This is a cross-sectional analysis of cardiovascular risk and sociodemographic factors associated with statin utilisation from wave 1 of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing. A hierarchy of indications for statin utilisation, consisting of eight mutually exclusive levels of CVD-related diagnoses, was created. Participants were assigned one level of indication. The prevalence of statin utilisation was calculated. The likelihood that an individual was using a statin was estimated using a multivariable logistic regression model, controlling for cardiovascular risk and sociodemographic factors.

Results: In this nationally representative sample (n=5618) of community-dwelling participants aged 50 years and over, 1715 (30.5%) were taking statins. Of these, 65.0% (57.3% of men and 72.7% of women) were doing so for the primary prevention of CVD. Thus, almost two-thirds of those taking statins did so for primary prevention and there was a notable difference between women and men in this regard. We also found that statin utilisation was highest among those with a prior history of CVD and was significantly associated with age (compared with the base category 50-64 years; 65-74 years OR 1.38 (95% CI 1.16 to 1.65); 75+ OR 1.33 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.69)), living with a spouse or partner (compared with the base category living alone; OR 1.35 (95% CI 1.10 to 1.65)), polypharmacy (OR 1.74 (95% CI 1.39 to 2.19)) and frequency of general practitioner visits (compared with the base category 0 visits per year; 1-2 visits OR 2.46 (95% CI 1.80 to 3.35); 3-4 visits OR 3.24 (95% CI 2.34 to 4.47); 5-6 visits OR 2.98 (95% CI 2.08 to 4.26); 7+ visits OR 2.51 (95% CI 1.73 to 3.63)), even after controlling for clinical need. There was no association between using statins and gender, education, income, social class, health insurance status, location or Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) risk in the multivariable analysis.

Conclusion: Statin utilisation among those with no history of CVD accounted for almost two-thirds of all statin use, in part reflecting the high proportion of the population with no history of CVD, although utilisation rates were highest among those with a history of CVD.

Keywords: cardiology; preventive medicine; primary care; public health; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Prevention
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Social Class


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors