Despite the health benefits of drugs that lower cholesterol levels, research shows they remain underused.
Lipid-lowering drugs can be started when a patient is in the hospital or at a follow-up appointment with a doctor. Researchers from Cleveland Clinic Foundation looked at the relationship between when lipid-lowering therapy is started during a hospital stay vs. in an outpatient setting and its long-term use.
For the study, researchers used information from patients from 69 centers in the United States and Canada. The patients were all part of a previous study. Researchers found 175 patients were all discharged taking cholesterol-lowering therapy and 1,951 were discharged without the therapy. Researchers then looked at who was put on the therapy and how long they adhered to the drug regimen.
After six months, 77 percent of the patients who started taking the drugs before they left the hospital continued taking the medicine compared to 25 percent of those who started the therapy after leaving the hospital. Researchers say they found that initiation of lipid lowering agents before discharge was the most important independent predictor of their use at follow-up and patients in whom lipid-lowering therapy was initiated before discharge were nearly three times as likely to be taking these agents six months later.
Researchers say more studies looking at other factors that can influence the long-term use of these drugs need to be done.