Impact of cardiologist intervention on guideline-directed use of statin therapy

World J Cardiol. 2020 Aug 26;12(8):419-426. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v12.i8.419.


Background: Statins have an important and well-established role in the prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). However, several studies have reported widespread underuse of statins in various practice settings and populations. Review of relevant literature reveals opportunities for improvement in the implementation of guideline-directed statin therapy (GDST).

Aim: To examine the impact of cardiologist intervention on the use of GDST in the ambulatory setting.

Methods: Patients with at least one encounter at the adult Internal Medicine Clinic (IMC) and/or Cardiology Clinic (CC), who had an available serum cholesterol test performed, were evaluated. The 2 comparison groups were defined as: (1) Patients only seen by IMC; and (2) Patients seen by both IMC and CC. Patients were excluded if variables needed for calculation of ASCVD risk scores were lacking, and if demographic information lacked guideline-directed treatment recommendations. Data were analyzed using student t-tests or χ 2, as appropriate. Analysis of Variance was used to compare rates of adherence to GDST.

Results: A total of 268 patients met the inclusion criteria for this study; 211 in the IMC group and 57 in the IMC-CC group. Overall, 56% of patients were female, mean age 56 years (± 10.65, SD), 22% Black or African American, 56% Hispanic/Latino, 14% had clinical ASCVD, 13% current smokers, 66% diabetic and 63% hypertensive. Statin use was observed in 55% (n = 147/268) of the entire patient cohort. In the IMC-CC group, 73.6% (n = 42/57) of patients were prescribed statin therapy compared to 50.7% (n = 107/211) of patients in the IMC group (P = 0.002). In terms of appropriate statin use based on guidelines, there was no statistical difference between groups [IMC-CC group 61.4% (n = 35/57) vs IMC group, 55.5% (n = 117/211), P = 0.421]. Patients in the IMC-CC group were older, had more cardiac risk factors and had higher proportions of non-white patients compared to the IMC group (P < 0.02, all).

Conclusion: Although overall use of GDST was suboptimal, there was no statistical difference in appropriate statin use based on guidelines between groups managed by general internists alone or co-managed with a cardiologist. These findings highlight the need to design and implement strategies to improve adherence rates to GDST across all specialties.

Keywords: Adherence; Ambulatory care; Cardiologist; Guideline directed statin therapy; Statin use.