A new study published in JAMA Cardiology has found that people who fail to take statins have a much higher risk of death.
The study shows that many patients with clogged arteries don’t take their statins as suggested.
Forgetting taking the cholesterol-lowering drug could increase the risk of death.
The research was done by a team from the Stanford University Medical Center.
Previously, scientists have found that more than 33% of patients with heart disease who have been prescribed statins to lower their cholesterol failed to take them daily.
Among them, women and nonwhites were least likely to take their prescriptions, according to a recent review of Veterans Affairs medical records.
In this study, the researchers examined the health records of 347,104 patients with heart disease caused by fatty deposits in their arteries.
All of the patients had been prescribed statins to lower cholesterol.
The team checked how often the patients picked up their prescriptions over a span of nearly three years. About 25% of the patients died during the time.
The researchers found patients who took statins less than 70% of the time had a 20% increase in death compared to people who take statins at least 90% of the time.
Moreover, even people who were pretty good—but not perfect—at picking up their prescriptions showed increased death risk.
The researchers suggest that patients should be adhered to their statins 100% to protect their health.
In addition, doctors could do more to encourage their patients to take their medications daily.
For example, they suggest doctors could bring it up and tell the patient that it matters to you as a provider probably has some effect.
They also hope patients know that most statins are available in generic form and inexpensive.
Although most patients would like to take medicines in a short time to protect health, it is important to take statins in the long-term.
In the future, the team will examine the reason why people fail to take statins.
It is possible that older patients may lose track of their statins among other medications they are taking, and younger patients may not believe they are at risk of dying.
The study lead author is Fatima Rodriguez, MD, assistant professor of medicine. Paul Heidenreich, MD, professor of medicine, is the senior author.
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Further reading: JAMA Cardiology.