Objectives To estimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and CVD management using routinely collected medication data as a proxy.

Design Descriptive and interrupted time series analysis using anonymised individual-level population-scale data for 1.32 billion records of dispensed CVD medications across 15.8 million individuals in England, Scotland and Wales.

Setting Community dispensed CVD medications with 100% coverage from England, Scotland and Wales, plus primary care prescribed CVD medications from England (including 98% English general practices).

Participants 15.8 million individuals aged 18+ years alive on 1st April 2018 dispensed at least one CVD medicine in a year from England, Scotland and Wales.

Main outcome measures Monthly counts, percent annual change (1st April 2018 to 31st July 2021) and annual rates (1st March 2018 to 28th February 2021) of medicines dispensed by CVD/ CVD risk factor; prevalent and incident use.

Results Year-on-year change in dispensed CVD medicines by month were observed, with notable uplifts ahead of the first (11.8% higher in March 2020) but not subsequent national lockdowns. Using hypertension as one example of the indirect impact of the pandemic, we observed 491,203 fewer individuals initiated antihypertensive treatment across England, Scotland and Wales during the period March 2020 to end May 2021 than would have been expected compared to 2019. We estimated that this missed antihypertension treatment could result in 13,659 additional CVD events should individuals remain untreated, including 2,281 additional myocardial infarctions (MIs) and 3,474 additional strokes. Incident use of lipid-lowering medicines decreased by an average 14,793 per month in early 2021 compared with the equivalent months prior to the pandemic in 2019. In contrast, the use of incident medicines to treat type-2 diabetes (T2DM) increased by approximately 1,642 patients per month.

Conclusions Management of key CVD risk factors as proxied by incident use of CVD medicines has not returned to pre-pandemic levels in the UK. Novel methods to identify and treat individuals who have missed treatment are urgently required to avoid large numbers of additional future CVD events, further adding indirect cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted medRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Cite as

Dale, C., Takhar, R., Carragher, R., Torabi, F., Katsoulis, M., Duffield, S., Kent, S., Mueller, T., Kurdi, A., McTaggart, S., Abbasizanjani, H., Hollings, S., Scourfield, A., Lyons, R., Griffiths, R., Lyons, J., Davies, G., Harris, D., Handy, A., Mizani, M., Tomlinson, C., Ashworth, M., Denaxas, S., Banerjee, A., Sterne, J., Lovibond, K., Brown, P., Bullard, I., Priedon, R., Mamas, M., Slee, A., Lorgelly, P., Pirmohamed, M., Khunti, K., Sattar, N., Morris, A., Sudlow, C., Akbari, A., Bennie, M. & Sofat, R. 2022, 'The adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic on cardiovascular disease prevention and management in England, Scotland and Wales: A population-scale analysis of trends in medication data'. To be published in MedRxiv [Preprint]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.31.21268587

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 20 June 2023
Was this page helpful?