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Younger Adults Increasingly Treated for Heart Disease-related Conditions
Date:10/30/2007

could be the result of the growing obesity epidemic and various lifestyle factors."

Not only were the increases among 20-44 year olds significant, but so too were the rates of increase when compared to age groups more traditionally associated with these categories of medications. The increase in the number of 20-44 year-olds on lipid-lowering medications was 37 percent higher than it was for 45 to 64 year olds; the growth in prevalence of those on antihypertensives was 52 percent greater. When compared with patients 65 years or older, the increase in usage of lipid-lowering medications was 31 percent higher in the 20-44 group, and among those on antihypertensives it was more than double.

Decline Seen in Age of Patients on Drug Treatment

The analysis also found a significant shift downward in the age of patients using these drug treatments. In 2006, half of all patients on lipid- lowering drugs were 61 years old or younger; the median age of women fell more sharply than men, dropping from 67 to 62 in the six-year span, as compared to 62 to 59 for men.

The median age of those using antihypertensives declined four years over the six-year period, with half of all patients on these drugs being 60 years or younger in 2006; again women had the greatest decline, dropping from 65 to 60 versus men whose median age fell from 63 to 60.

"There is a history of women being under-diagnosed and under-treated for heart conditions," said Epstein. "The fact that more women at a younger age are receiving medication treatment for high cholesterol and hypertension is a sign that the medical community is recognizing that heart disease is a serious threat to women as well as men."

Heart Disease Risks

High cholesterol and high blood pressure are two of the leading risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. High LDL cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, a narrowing and hardening of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. High blood
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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