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Open Access Research article

Cholesterol treatment with statins: Who is left out and who makes it to goal?

Peter Franks1, Daniel Tancredi2, Paul Winters3 and Kevin Fiscella4*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Healthcare Policy and Research and Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of California at Davis, 4860 Y Street, Suite 2300, Sacramento, CA, 95817, USA

2 Center for Healthcare Policy and Research and Department of Pediatrics University of California at Davis, 2103 Stockton Blvd., Suite 2224, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA

3 Department of Family Medicine, University of Rochester; 1381 South Ave, Rochester, NY 14620, USA

4 Departments of Family Medicine, Community & Preventive Medicine, Oncology, University of Rochester; 1381 South Ave, Rochester, NY 14620, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:68  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-68

Published: 17 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Whether patient socio-demographic characteristics (age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, and education) are independently associated with failure to receive indicated statin therapy and/or to achieve low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) therapy goals are not known. We examined socio-demographic factors associated with a) eligibility for statin therapy among those not on statins, and b) achievement of statin therapy goals.

Methods

Adults (21-79 years) participating in the United States (US) National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1999-2006 were studied. Statin eligibility and achievement of target LDL-C was assessed using the US Third Adult Treatment Panel (ATP III) on Treatment of High Cholesterol guidelines.

Results

Among 6,043 participants not taking statins, 10.4% were eligible. Adjusted predictors of statin eligibility among statin non-users were being older, male, poorer, and less educated. Hispanics were less likely to be eligible but not using statins, an effect that became non-significant with adjustment for language usually spoken at home. Among 537 persons taking statins, 81% were at LDL-C goal. Adjusted predictors of goal failure among statin users were being male and poorer. These risks were not attenuated by adjustment for healthcare access or utilization.

Conclusion

Among person's not taking statins, the socio-economically disadvantaged are more likely to be eligible and among those on statins, the socio-economically disadvantaged are less likely to achieve statin treatment goals. Further study is needed to identify specific amenable patient and/or physician factors that contribute to these disparities.