First-year statin discontinuation and non-adherence common in older adults

Study finds that older patients with anxiety or diabetes were more likely to be non-adherent or to discontinue their statin treatment. 

Statins blister packs

A substantial proportion of older people who begin taking statins do not take them as intended, according to an Australian study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (6 November 2018)[1]

The study used data on 22,340 people in Australia aged 65 years and over who began taking a statin between 2014 and 2015, and assessed whether they were non-adherent (took less than 80% of their prescribed medication) or discontinued treatment altogether.

During the one year follow-up, 55.1% were non-adherent and 44.7% discontinued statins entirely. The team found that people with diabetes were more likely to be non-adherent and discontinue treatment, and people aged 85 years and over who had anxiety were more likely to discontinue.

However, hypertension, angina and congestive heart failure were associated with a lower likelihood of non-adherence and discontinuation, as was polypharmacy.

The researchers said the findings suggested that additional attention may be needed for people in certain subgroups in order to improve adherence.

“The study findings highlight the need for interventions to improve statin use among older adults — in order that the benefits of statins can be realised — and recognition that certain sub-groups of people may require additional attention,” said senior author Danny Liew from Monash University in Australia.


5[1] Ofori-Asenso R, Ilomaki J, Tacey M et al. Predictors of first-year nonadherence and discontinuation of statins among older adults: a retrospective cohort study. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2018. doi: 10.1111/bcp.13797

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, January 2019, Vol 11, No 1;11(1):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205865

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