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Importance: Studies on the use of and adherence to secondary prevention therapies in patients with premature and extremely premature atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) are lacking.
Objective: To evaluate and compare aspirin use, any statin use, high-intensity statin use, and statin adherence among patients with premature or extremely premature ASCVD compared with patients with nonpremature ASCVD.
Design, setting, and participants: This multicenter cross-sectional study used the clinical and administrative data sets of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify adult patients with at least 1 primary care visit in the VA health care system between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015. The study cohort comprised patients with ASCVD (ischemic heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, or ischemic cerebrovascular disease) who were enrolled in the Veterans With Premature Atherosclerosis (VITAL) registry. Patients with missing data for date of birth or sex and those with limited life expectancy were excluded. Data were analyzed from November 1, 2019, to January 1, 2020.
Exposures: Premature (the first ASCVD event occurred at age women) vs nonpremature (the first ASCVD event occurred at age ≥55 years for men or age ≥65 years for women) ASCVD and extremely premature (the first ASCVD event occurred at age <40 >years) vs nonpremature ASCVD.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcomes were aspirin use, any statin use, high-intensity statin use, and statin adherence (measured by proportion of days covered [PDC] ≥0.8).
Results: Of the 1 248 158 patients identified, 135 703 (10.9%) had premature ASCVD (mean [SD] age, 49.6 [5.8] years; 116 739 men [86.0%]), 1 112 455 (89.1%) had nonpremature ASCVD (mean [SD] age, 69.6 [8.9] years; 1 104 318 men [99.3%]), and 7716 (0.6%) had extremely premature ASCVD (mean [SD] age, 34.2 [4.3] years; 6576 men [85.2%]). Patients with premature ASCVD vs those with nonpremature ASCVD had lower rates of aspirin use (96 468 [71.1%] vs 860 726 [77.4%]; P < .001) and any statin use (98 908 [72.9%] vs 894 931 [80.5%]; P < .001); had a statin PDC of 0.8 or higher (57 306 [57.9%] vs 644 357 [72.0%]; P < .001); and a higher rate of high-intensity statin use (49 354 [36.4%] vs 332 820 [29.9%]; P < .001). Similarly, patients with extremely premature ASCVD were less likely to use aspirin (odds ratio [OR], 0.27; 95% CI, 0.26-0.29), any statin (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.24-0.27), or high-intensity statin (OR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.74-0.82) and to be statin adherent (OR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.41-0.47).
Conclusions and relevance: In this study, patients with premature or extremely premature ASCVD appeared to be less likely to use aspirin or statins and to adhere to statin therapy. This finding warrants further investigation into premature ASCVD and initiatives, including clinician and patient education, to better understand and mitigate the disparities in medication use and adherence.


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JAMA Network Open

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.