Cardiovascular disease risk-based statin utilization and associated outcomes in a primary prevention cohort: Insights from a large health care network

Document Type



Office of the Provost; Cardiology


Background: Current American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines recommend using the 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk to guide statin therapy for primary prevention. Real-world data on adherence and consequences of nonadherence to the guidelines in primary are limited. We investigated the guideline-directed statin intensity (GDSI) and associated outcomes in a large health care system, stratified by ASCVD risk.
Methods: Statin prescription in patients without coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, or ischemic stroke were evaluated within a large health care network (2013-2017) using electronic medical health records. Patient categories constructed by the 10-year ASCVD risk were borderline (5%-7.4%), intermediate (7.5%-19.9%), or high (≥20%). The GDSI (before time of first event) was defined as none or any intensity for borderline, and at least moderate for intermediate and high-risk groups. Mean (±SD) time to start/change to GDSI from first interaction in health care and incident rates (per 1000 person-years) for each outcome were calculated. Cox regression models were used to calculate hazard ratios for incident ASCVD and mortality across risk categories stratified by statin utilization.
Results: Among 282 298 patients (mean age ≈50 years), 29 134 (10.3%), 63 299 (22.4%), and 26 687 (9.5%) were categorized as borderline, intermediate, and high risk, respectively. Among intermediate and high-risk categories, 27 358 (43%) and 8300 (31%) patients did not receive any statin, respectively. Only 17 519 (65.6%) high-risk patients who were prescribed a statin received GDSI. The mean time to GDSI was ≈2 years among the intermediate and high-risk groups. At a median follow-up of 6 years, there was a graded increase in risk of ASCVD events in intermediate risk (hazard ratio=1.15 [1.07-1.24]) and high risk (hazard ratio=1.27 [1.17-1.37]) when comparing no statin use with GDSI therapy. Similarly, mortality risk among intermediate and high-risk groups was higher in no statin use versus GDSI.
Conclusions: In a real-world primary prevention cohort, over one-third of statin-eligible patients were not prescribed statin therapy. Among those receiving a statin, mean time to GDSI was ≈2 years. The consequences of nonadherence to guidelines are illustrated by greater incident ASCVD and mortality events. Further research can develop and optimize health care system strategies for primary prevention.


Pagination are not provided by the author/publisher. This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes