Standard and intensive lipid-lowering therapy with statins for the primary prevention of vascular diseases: a population-based study



To describe the clinical profile of the patients that initiate statin therapy for the primary prevention of vascular diseases and to investigate the extent to which clinicians use intensive vs. standard regimens.


A cross-sectional analysis of nationwide individual data regarding individuals ≥11 years with a first prescription of statin, recorded between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2011. Subjects were defined as intensive therapy initiators if a statin dose superior to simvastatin 40 mg (or equivalent dose if different statin) was first prescribed. Multivariable logistic regression models were built for dependent summary variables to evaluate the strength of the association between them and the use of intensive therapy.


Overall, 69,737 patients receiving a first prescription of statin for the primary prevention of vascular diseases were identified. Predictors for intensive therapy initiation were male gender (adjusted OR: 1.28; 95%CI: 1.10–1.48), history of hypothyroidism (1.47; 1.17–1.85), current treatment of diabetes (1.18; 1.00–1.41), proteinuria (1.87; 1.12–3.12), age, and year of statin prescription. Modifiable risk factors associated with intensive therapy were elevated tryglicerides (1.63; 1.39–1.91), elevated LDL-C (1.96; 1.69–2.28), obesity (1.25; 1.07–1.47), smoking (1.32; 1.14–1.55), comedication with ezetimibe (3.76; 1.87–7.55), fibrates (1.96; 1.43–2.70) and calcium antagonists in women (1.42; 1.02–1.98).


The use of intensive therapy with statins in primary prevention was not very high in absolute terms, but is increasing considerably. The association between intensive therapy and previous hypothyroidism or its combination with fibrates may raise additional safety and tolerability concerns.

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Authors would like to acknowledge the excellent collaboration of general practitioners taking part in BIFAP.



Conflict of Interest Statement

All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work and no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous 3 years and no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

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All the authors have contributed substantially to the material and/or intellectual content, data analysis, if applicable, and the writing of the manuscript, sufficiently to accept public accountability for it.

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Correspondence to D. Macías Saint-Gerons.

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Macías Saint-Gerons, D., de la Fuente Honrubia, C., Montero Corominas, D. et al. Standard and intensive lipid-lowering therapy with statins for the primary prevention of vascular diseases: a population-based study. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 70, 99–108 (2014).

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  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Drug utilization study
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors
  • Statin
  • Intensive therapy
  • Spain