Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Long-term statin adherence inversely associated with all-cause mortality in ASCVD

Association of Statin Adherence With Mortality in Patients With Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease

Literature - Rodriguez F, Maron DJ, Knowles JW et al. - JAMA Cardiol 2019; doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2018.4936

Introduction and methods

The updated 2018 American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) cholesterol guidelines recommend statins as main therapy for patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and emphasize the importance of determining adherence in routine follow-up [1]. However, statins are substantially underused and underdosed in many high-risk patients, even after an acute coronary syndrome [2-4]. The reasons for low adherence to statin treatment are complex and may include patient, clinician, and health care system factors that remain unclear. Further, most studies evaluated statin adherence in patients immediately after an ASCVD event or hospitalization during which new statins were prescribed.

This retrospective cohort study (n=347.104) therefore determined the association between statin adherence and all-cause mortality for outpatients with established ASCVD (aged 18-85 years) within the Veterans Affairs (VA) Health System (January 2013 – April 2014) who had a stable statin prescription, and investigated whether this association was modified by statin intensity or by patient-level or by system-level characteristics. Patients who underwent dose reduction or intensification during the 6 months after the index date were excluded. Statin intensity was categorized according to the ACC/AHA cholesterol treatment guidelines: low, moderate or high [1,5]. Adherence was defined by the medication possession ratio (MPR), which was calculated by dividing the number of days of outpatient statin supplied during a 12-month period by the number of days that the patient was not hospitalized and alive during the 12-month period. MPR was classified as: <50%, 50% to 69%, 70% to 89%, or ≥90%. Mean follow-up was 2.9 years.

Primary outcome was all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes were 1-year mortality, 1-year hospitalization for ischemic heart disease or ischemic stroke.

Main results

Patient characteristics and adherence to statin therapy

Adherence to statin therapy and 1-year hospitalization

Adherence to statin therapy and 1-year all-cause mortality

Long-term statin adherence inversely associated with all-cause mortality in ASCVD


This retrospective cohort study showed an inverse, graded association between long-term statin adherence and all-cause mortality in VA patients with ASCVD. These data suggest that optimization of statin adherence is needed to improve secondary prevention of ASCVD.


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