Patients who are eligible to take statins to lower bad cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke do not take them.
A study found that a total of 1,511 adults in the United States do not receive statin treatment despite meeting the criteria for the cholesterol-lowering drug. More than half of the number or 59 percent admitted that their doctors never recommended the medication.
Researchers surveyed 5,693 people for the study. They published their findings in the Journal of the American Heart Association on Wednesday, March 27.
Why People Are Not Taking Statins
The study also identified that African-American women and those who do not have insurance are more likely to report that their doctors never offered or recommended statins. Meanwhile, patients in cardiology practices more often receive cholesterol-lowering medication than those in primary care.
The researchers admitted that some of the patients surveyed might have been offered statin, but do not remember talking about it with their doctors. Corey Bradley, the lead author of the study and researcher at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in South Carolina, said that this is still a problem.
"[W]e believe that if the patient did not remember the conversation, the discussion likely was not an effective one," he commented.
The study also discovered that a significant number of patients who were offered to take statin either declined (10.1 percent) or discontinued (30. 7 percent) taking the medication. Many said that they are worried about the possible side effects of the drug.
Ann Marie Navar, the senior author of the study and an assistant professor of Medicine at Duke Clinical Research Institute, explained that there is a lot of misinformation that might be preventing people from taking the drug.
"Although there are risks associated with statins, the public fear of side effects is out of proportion to the actual risks," she stated. "Misconceptions about statins are everywhere and are fueled by false information on the internet."
The research, however, revealed that 59.7 percent of patients who discontinued using statins is open to using them again. The researchers hope that this will encourage doctors to discuss the benefits of the treatment and convince patients to take the medication.
Statin is a class of drug that aids in lowering the amount of low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol in the blood. Studies have proven that the use of statins can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
While there is evidence that taking the medication can lead to type 2 diabetes, the Food and Drug Authority said that the risk is small. The benefits promised by statin "outweighs" the very small chance of developing diabetes.