More lifestyle support needed for patients starting medicines for cardiovascular disease, study concludes

A study of people in Finland has shown that those taking statins or antihypertensive medicines were 82% more likely to become obese.

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People who initiate statins or antihypertensive medicines are more likely to become obese or physically inactive compared with people who do not, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests (5 February 2020)[1]

The research looked at lifestyle survey data between 2000 and 2013 from 41,225 people in Finland who were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline, along with their medicines use, which was obtained from pharmacy-claims data. Overall, 8,837 began taking antihypertensives or statins during this time.

The team found that, after initiation, the odds of becoming obese were 82% (odds ratio [OR]: 1.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.63–2.03) higher among initiators and the risk of physical inactivity increased 8% (OR: 1.08; 95% CI, 1.01–1.17) compared with non-initiators. However, initiators were 26% (OR for current smoking in the second survey: 0.74; 95% CI, 0.64–0.85) less likely to be smokers and had significantly greater reductions in alcohol consumption compared with non-initiators at follow-up.

It is unclear from previous research whether preventive medicines lead patients to adopt complementary lifestyle changes or become a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. The researchers said the study suggests that initiation leads to both positive and negative lifestyle changes.

“More effective measures are needed to support the recommended lifestyle change in relation to the initiation of pharmacologic interventions for primary prevention,” they concluded.


[1] Korhonen M, Pentti J, Hartikainen J et al. Lifestyle changes in relation to initiation of antihypertensive and lipid-lowering medication: a cohort study. J Am Heart Assoc 2020; 9:e014168. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.014168

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2020, Vol 304, No 7937;304(7937):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207810

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