Background: The aggressive management of atherosclerotic risk factors (ARF) has been accredited with the declining incidence of stroke in older adults. The goal of this study was to look at treatment patterns of ARF in young adults compared to older adults.
Methods: A commercial claims database was used, containing enrollees between ages 15 to 45 for young adults and ≥ 55 for older adults from 2001 to 2014. Diagnosis for ARF including hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia were established based on 2 outpatient or 1 inpatient claim. Hospitalization with the primary diagnosis of stroke were identified. Of patients with an ARF diagnosis, we looked for the presence of any medication claims including oral antihypertensive, antihyperlipidemics, and antidiabetics (including injectables) based on the Generic Product Identifier (GPI) codes.
Results: Included in the analysis were 3,770,474 young adults with mean age 28 and 1,552,351 older adults with mean age 60. From 2001 to 2014, the overall prevalence of hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia were 7.68%, 2.65%, and 7.85% respectively in young adults, compared to 47.8%, 18.0% and 46.6% respectively in older adults. Treatment rate of hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia improved faster annually in older adults (1.9%, 1.7%, 1.8% respectively) than young adults (0.96 %, 0.99%, 0.61%, respectively, p<0.01). For young and older adults with stroke, overall treatment rates for hypertension and dyslipidemia were higher than those without stroke (p 0.028 to <0.0001). However, diabetes was treated at a lower rate in those with stroke for both young (61.9% vs. 66.3%, p=0.001) and older adults (57.9% vs. 61.3%, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Proportion of treatment for ARF in older adults improved at a faster rate than young adults. Overall treatment rates of diabetes was higher in young adults likely due to proportionally more cases of type 1 diabetes. Hyperlipidemia was treated at a much lower rate in young adults than older adults.