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Keywords:

  • hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors;
  • incidence;
  • prevalence;
  • statins;
  • utilization

WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN

• Statin use has increased in western societies since the 1990s.

• Efficacy of statins in the prevention of coronary heart diseases has been clearly documented in the general population but only recently in elderly persons.

WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS

• Since 1995 the use of statins has clearly shifted towards the elderly in Finland.

• At the beginning of the 11 year follow-up the prevalence of statin use was higher among males than females but since 2002 the prevalence has been higher among females.

AIM

To describe nation-wide secular trends in statin use.

METHODS

Reimbursed prescriptions for lipid lowering drugs between 1995 and 2005 in Finland were retrieved from the nation-wide Prescription Register. The 1 year prevalence and incidence of statin use stratified by gender and age of users were measured for each calendar year. The relative changes (RR) in the incidence and the prevalence were calculated by using the year 1995 as a reference.

RESULTS

The 1 year prevalence increased 11-fold (95% confidence interval 11.2, 11.5), i.e. from 7.8 per 1000 inhabitants in 1995 to 88.9 in 2005. The incidence increased five-fold (95% CI 4.9, 5.1) from 355 per 100 000 inhabitants to 1772 during the respective years. The prevalence and incidence were the highest among persons aged 65−74 years. The largest relative increase in incidence was found among those aged ≥ 75 years, in both females (RR 14.1, 95% CI 13.0, 15.3) and males (RR 14.0, 95% CI 12.5, 15.7). Since 2002 the prevalence has been higher among females (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

As statin use has increased particularly among the elderly, further studies on the benefits in real life situation are needed in this age group.