Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. While there is indisputable evidence that statin treatment reduces the burden of CVD, undertreatment remains a concern for primary and secondary prevention. The aim of this study was to assess the use of lipid-lowering drugs (LLD) among 70,292 individuals in the Netherlands as a proxy of adherence to the national guideline for prevention and treatment of CVD.
LifeLines is a population-based prospective cohort study in the three Northern provinces of the Netherlands. At baseline, all participants completed questionnaires, and underwent a physical examination and lab testing. The national guidelines were used to assess how many participants were eligible for LLD prescription and we analysed how many indeed reported LLD use.
For primary prevention, 77% (2515 of 3268) of those eligible for LLD treatment did not report using these drugs, while for secondary prevention this was 31% (403 of 1302). Patients with diabetes mellitus were treated best (67%) for primary prevention. Notably, of the patients with stroke, only 47% (182 of 386) reported LLD treatment.
Despite clear guidelines and multiple national initiatives to improve CVD risk management, adherence to guidelines for the treatment of CVD in the Netherlands remains a major challenge. This study calls out for improving public awareness of CVD and to improve primary and secondary prevention to prevent unnecessary CVD-related morbidity and mortality.