Heart Attack, Stroke Data Highlight Value of Prevention

Weeks shy of the annual European Society of Cardiology Congress, new data from the United States shed light on the importance of cardiovascular prevention. 

According to research from the U.S.-based FH Foundation, people at high risk for cardiovascular events, such as those with cardiovascular disease or genetic high cholesterol called “familial hypercholesterolemia,” had more heart attacks and strokes when they couldn’t get the preventive medication their physicians had prescribed.  The study looked specifically at PCSK9 inhibitors, innovative drugs that lower high LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and death for at-risk patients who don’t respond adequately to statins. 

The FH Foundation’s study found:

  • High-risk patients had a 16% increased risk for a cardiovascular event when their prescription was rejected by their health insurer
  • Individuals who did not fill their approved prescription had a 21% increased risk of a cardiovascular event.  Abandoned prescriptions were associated with high out-of-pocket costs for patients.
  • Individuals with FH and established cardiovascular disease had more than five times the risk of others in the study.  Insurers rejected two-thirds of their prescriptions.

“Real people had real heart attacks and strokes because they could not get the medicine prescribed by their doctors,” emphasized the FH Foundation’s Kelly Myers, an author of the study.  The FH Foundation study confirmed that women, minorities and poor patients had higher rates of prescription rejection and prescription abandonment.  

“It is imperative that we initiate comprehensive treatment early in life,” said Daniel J Rader, MD, chief scientific advisor of the FH Foundation and senior author of the paper, “and that individuals receive the medications they have been prescribed.”

Starting August 31, the European Society of Cardiology Congress will touch on more than 400 topics over its five-day program.  For those living with FH, and for other high-risk patients, no topic may be of greater importance than access to preventive treatment.  

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