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Public Library of Science, PLoS Medicine, 6(18), p. e1003672, 2021

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003672



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Ethnic differences in guideline-indicated statin initiation for people with type 2 diabetes in UK primary care, 2006–2019: A cohort study

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


Background Type 2 diabetes is 2–3 times more prevalent in people of South Asian and African/African Caribbean ethnicity than people of European ethnicity living in the UK. The former 2 groups also experience excess atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) complications of diabetes. We aimed to study ethnic differences in statin initiation, a cornerstone of ASCVD primary prevention, for people with type 2 diabetes. Methods and findings Observational cohort study of UK primary care records, from 1 January 2006 to 30 June 2019. Data were studied from 27,511 (88%) people of European ethnicity, 2,386 (8%) people of South Asian ethnicity, and 1,142 (4%) people of African/African Caribbean ethnicity with incident type 2 diabetes, no previous ASCVD, and statin use indicated by guidelines. Statin initiation rates were contrasted by ethnicity, and the number of ASCVD events that could be prevented by equalising prescribing rates across ethnic groups was estimated. Median time to statin initiation was 79, 109, and 84 days for people of European, South Asian, and African/African Caribbean ethnicity, respectively. People of African/African Caribbean ethnicity were a third less likely to receive guideline-indicated statins than European people (n/N [%]: 605/1,142 [53%] and 18,803/27,511 [68%], respectively; age- and gender-adjusted HR 0.67 [95% CI 0.60 to 0.76], p < 0.001). The HR attenuated marginally in a model adjusting for total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio (0.77 [95% CI 0.69 to 0.85], p < 0.001), with no further diminution when deprivation, ASCVD risk factors, comorbidity, polypharmacy, and healthcare usage were accounted for (fully adjusted HR 0.76 [95% CI 0.68, 0.85], p < 0.001). People of South Asian ethnicity were 10% less likely to receive a statin than European people (1,489/2,386 [62%] and 18,803/27,511 [68%], respectively; fully adjusted HR 0.91 [95% CI 0.85 to 0.98], p = 0.008, adjusting for all covariates). We estimated that up to 12,600 ASCVD events could be prevented over the lifetimes of people currently affected by type 2 diabetes in the UK by equalising statin prescribing across ethnic groups. Limitations included incompleteness of recording of routinely collected data. Conclusions In this study we observed that people of African/African Caribbean ethnicity with type 2 diabetes were substantially less likely, and people of South Asian ethnicity marginally less likely, to receive guideline-indicated statins than people of European ethnicity, even after accounting for sociodemographics, healthcare usage, ASCVD risk factors, and comorbidity. Underuse of statins in people of African/African Caribbean or South Asian ethnicity with type 2 diabetes is a missed opportunity to prevent cardiovascular events.