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Keywords:

  • ischemic stroke;
  • sex differences;
  • secondary prevention;
  • drug therapy;
  • persistence

ABSTRACT

Purpose

This observational study describes the sex differences in the use of secondary preventive drugs after ischemic stroke in terms of prescribing and persistence. Also, sex differences in patient- and treatment-related factors associated with drug use were investigated.

Methods

In this nationwide register-based study, the Swedish Stroke Register was linked to the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register for information on drugs prescribed for, and bought by, stroke patients. Background factors were included from the Swedish Stroke Register.

Results

Included in the database were 9331 men and 9018 women. Men were more often prescribed statins, 48.8% versus 38.1% [age-adjusted prevalence ratio (PR) = 0.86, 95%CI = 0.82–0.91], and warfarin, 38.4% versus 26.4% after stroke (age-adjusted PR = 0.88, 95%CI = 0.79–0.97). There were no differences in prescribing of antihypertensive or antiplatelet drugs. No sex differences were seen regarding not continuing drug treatment after discharge (primary non-adherence). Women had slightly higher persistence to antihypertensive treatment 2 years after discharge, 76.3% versus 71.9% for men (age-adjusted PR = 1.05, 95%CI = 1.00–1.09), but there were no differences in persistence to antiplatelet, warfarin or statin treatments. Similar factors were related to statin and warfarin prescribing for both men and women. Only antihypertensive treatment before stroke was associated to persistence to antihypertensive treatment, and this increased persistence for both men and women.

Conclusions

This study showed few differences between men and women after stroke. Patients' use of secondary preventive drugs needs to be improved, and from a public health perspective, poor persistence is probably a greater problem than differences between the sexes. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.