By Victor M. Montori
With a new interface that includes versions in English, Spanish, and Chinese, the Statin Choice decision aid (http://statindecisionaid.mayoclinic.org) is out. With over 70,000 uses worldwide year-to-date and new policy endorsements for its use (JAMA Article), the Statin Choice decision aid is helping patients and their clinicians have meaningful conversations about whether to use statins to reduce cardiovascular risk. It helps them adhere to the new guidelines, in a patient-centered manner. And with new work to integrate the tool into all major EHR providers, it may be the best demonstration of meaningful use.
Enhancements from the first version also include two options for printing in the office: color and black-and-white, in addition to the existing option to emailing the tool after its use to the patient, a family member, or another clinician. In terms of new content, the biggest difference is the exclusion of the aspirin component (see below). We have also beefed up the Documentation tab, an copy-and-paste interim solution before full integration into EHR to enable documentation of shared decision making, a key step toward advancing these conversations as a measure of quality of care.
This version is the result of hundreds of notes suggesting changes and enhancements that result form the experience of using it in practice. We hope to have responded properly. And thank you.
Why was aspirin removed from the latest version of the Statin Choice decision aid?
In response to the new AHA/ACC guidelines for cardiovascular prevention, there has been renewed interest in using the Statin Choice decision aid to translate the recommendations in a patient-centered way. With this attention, there has been interest from preventive cardiologists in using this tool. They brought to our attention that indeed the evidence about efficacy of aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease is inconsistent: clearer effect in men in relation to heart attacks but not stroke, in women about preventing strokes but no so much heart attacks and a series of negative trials in patients with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease have made it difficult to provide a simple message to all at-risk patients: a baby aspirin can reduce your risk of cardiovascular events. Also, emerging evidence suggests that the risk of bleeding with aspirin goes up as the risk of cardiovascular events, such that those who may benefit the most are also most likely to be harmed (although most aspirin bleeds are relatively inconsequential compared to a heart attack or a stroke).
This inconsistency is reflected, for example, in the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines: http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/clinicians-providers/resources/aspprovider.html.
Concerns are best reflected in this FDA advisory against primary prevention with aspirin from May 2014: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm390574.htm
It is telling when experts are talking more about using aspirin to prevent colon cancer than to prevent cardiovascular events (to our knowledge no one is yet recommending it for this purpose).
We will continue to monitor this evidence as we, the producers of Statin Choice, thought the evidence was good enough to add to and keep in the tool, and we will have a low threshold to put it back in as new evidence emerges, both of its efficacy and harm.