July 25 (UPI) -- Statin prescriptions for heart attack patients vary based on geographic location, a new study says.
New England had the highest number of high-intensity statin claims for patients following a heart attack compared to regions throughout the south that had the lowest number, according to new research published Wednesday Wednesday in JAMA Cardiology.
After analyzing the research, Bittner and her team discovered that high-intensity statin claims after heart attacks varied widely by region, with the greatest use in New England and the lowest use in the South, even after accounting for a large number of academic hospitals -- which tend to prescribe more high-intensity statins -- in the Northeast.
"Among Medicare patients, there is regional variation in filling prescriptions for high-intensity statins after myocardial infarction that is not explained by patient characteristics or hospital characteristics," Vera Bittner, a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and study lead author, said in a news release.
For the study, researchers looked at Medicare claims and hospital enrollment information for patients older than age 66 who suffered heart attacks between Jan. 1, 2011 and June 30, 2015. Specifically, they analyzed how geographic data, along with hospital and patient characteristics, influenced high-intensity statin drug claims.
The researchers say heart attack patients who don't get prescriptions filled for high-intensity statins are likely to have another heart attack. So doctors and patients need to be more proactive in closing the gap in filled prescriptions.
"Hospitals should audit their own data and develop quality improvement programs as appropriate -- physicians should write the prescriptions at discharge, post-myocardial infarction patients and families should ask for such a prescription if it is not offered, and post-myocardial infarction patients should fill the prescriptions and take the medication unless contraindicated for some reason," Bittner said.