Blacks less likely than whites to use either statins or aspirin in the prevention of cardiovascular disease

Research Activities, April 2011, No. 368

Blacks at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are less likely than similarly at-risk whites to use statins (38 percent vs. 50 percent) or aspirin (29 percent vs. 44 percent). These disparities in use of CVD medications may contribute to the documented disparities in CVD outcomes, concludes a new study.

A team of researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois analyzed data derived from in-home interviews of a nationally representative sample of 3,005 older adults in the United States. Interviewers asked people about the medications they took and categorized them according to CVD risk as high (1,066 people), moderate (977 people), and low (812 people). In general, older adults at high risk were more likely to use preventive therapies than those at moderate or low risk. Nearly half (48 percent) regularly used a statin and 41 percent regularly used aspirin. Statin use between whites and Hispanics did not differ for any of the three risk categories. However, Hispanics were less likely than whites to use aspirin and this difference was once again greatest in the high-risk category (30 percent vs. 44 percent).

This study suggests that policies and interventions to reduce racial disparities in statin use may need to extend beyond ensuring equal access to medical care. The disproportionately lower rates of aspirin use (compared with statins) also suggest that racial/ethnic disparities are not solely due to medication costs or income. Patient preference may be important: statins may have been preferred or prioritized by patients because of their prescription-only status. This study was partly supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13599).

See "Racial and ethnic disparities in cardiovascular medication use among older adults in the United States," by Dima M. Qato, M.D., Stacy Tessler Lindau, M.D., Rena M. Conti, Ph.D., and others in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety 19, pp. 834-842, 2010.

Current as of April 2011
Internet Citation: Blacks less likely than whites to use either statins or aspirin in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: Research Activities, April 2011, No. 368. April 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr11/0411RA4.html