Background Evidence on recent time trends in age–gender differences in cardiovascular drug use is scarce. We studied time trends in age–gender-specific cardiovascular drug use for primary prevention, secondary prevention, and in-hospital treatment of coronary heart disease.
Methods and results The PHARMO database was used for record linkage of drug dispensing, hospitalization, and population data to identify drug use between 1998 and 2010 in 1 203 290 persons ≥25 years eligible for primary prevention, 84 621 persons hospitalized for an acute coronary syndrome (ACS), and 15 651 persons eligible for secondary prevention. The use of cardiovascular drugs increased over time in all three settings. In primary prevention, the proportion of women that used lipid-lowering drugs was lower than men between 2003 and 2010 (5.7 vs. 7.3% in 2010). The higher proportion of women that used blood pressure-lowering drugs for primary prevention, compared with men, attenuated over time (15.1 vs. 13.8% in 2010). During hospital admission for an ACS, the proportion of women that used cardiovascular drugs was lower than men. In secondary prevention (36 months after hospital discharge), drug use was lowest in young women. The proportion receiving lipid-lowering drugs declined after the age of 75 in all three settings. This age difference attenuated over time.
Conclusion Age differences in drug use tended to attenuate over time, whereas gender differences persisted. Areas potentially for improvement are in the hospital treatment of ACS in young women, in secondary prevention among young women and the elderly, and in the continuity of drug use in secondary prevention.