Use of prescription cholesterol-lowering medications in United States adults aged at least 40 years rose between 2003 and 2012, according to a data brief written by CDC officials.
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012, Qiuping Gu, MD, PhD, from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, and colleagues evaluated recent trends in prescription cholesterol-lowering medication use among US adults aged at least 40 years.
Use of any cholesterol-lowering medication rose from 19.9% in 2003-2004 to 27.9% in 2011-2012 (P<.01), whereas use of statins rose from 18.3% in 2003-2004 to 25.9% in 2011, Gu and colleagues found. Much of the difference was driven by those using statins alone (2003-2004, 16.3%; 2011-2012, 23.2%; P<.01), they found. In 2011-2012, 83% of adults using a cholesterol-lowering medication used a statin alone, 10% used a statin and a nonstatin and 7% used only a nonstatin, they found.
In 2011-2012, US adults were more likely to use a cholesterol-lowering medication as they got older (age 40 to 59 years, 17.4%; age 75 and older, 47.6%; P<.01), but usage rates did not greatly differ by sex (men, 30.1%; women, 26.2%) or race or ethnicity (non-Hispanic whites, 28.3%; non-Hispanic blacks, 28.2%; Asians, 28.9%; Hispanics, 24.1%), according to the researchers.
By 2011-2012, prescription cholesterol-lowering medications were used by 70.8% of those with CVD, 62.8% of those with diabetes and 53.9% of those with hypercholesterolemia, Gu and colleagues found.
Among adults aged 40 years to 64 years, those with health insurance (23.9% vs. 8.1%; P<.01) and those with prescription coverage (24.3% vs. 9.3%; P<.01) were more likely to use prescription cholesterol-lowering medications in 2011-2012 compared with those without, according to the researchers.
In 2011-2012, the most commonly used prescription cholesterol-lowering medication was simvastatin (42%), followed by atorvastatin (20.2%), pravastatin (11.2%), rosuvastatin (Crestor, AstraZeneca) (8.2%) and lovastatin (7.4%), the researchers found.
“There is extensive and consistent evidence supporting the use of cholesterol-lowering medication, especially statins, in addition to lifestyle changes, to treat lipid disorders and reduce atherosclerotic CVD events,” Gu and colleagues wrote.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.