U.S. medical organizations have conflicting guidelines on the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs in blacks, a new study finds.
Researchers say that about one in four black Americans who are recommended to take a statin under guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association would no longer qualify for such therapy under new guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
The USPSTF is an influential government-appointed group whose decisions often influence health care, including insurance coverage.
The new study was led by Dr. Venkatesh Murthy of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. His team noted that while many studies have used artery scans to assess the need for statins by white patients, no such studies have focused on black patients.
However, compared with whites, black Americans are at higher risk of developing heart disease linked to plaque buildup in the arteries (“hardening of the arteries”).
So, would the new USPSTF guidelines on statin use be accurate for black patients? To find out, Murthy’s team compared statin “eligibility” for more than 2,800 black patients, aged 40 to 75.
The study authors reported that about one-quarter of black people who would be recommended to take a statin under the ACC/AHA guidelines wouldn’t be eligible under the new USPSTF advisory.
This suggests that the government panel’s guidelines may be less accurate at spotting black patients who need the therapy, the researchers said.