16 August 2014
Background/Aims: Our understanding of the effectiveness of cardioprotective medications in maintenance dialysis patients is based upon drug exposures assessed at a single point in time. We employed a novel, time-dependent approach to modeling medication use over time to examine outcomes in a large national cohort. Methods: We linked Medicaid prescription claims with United States Renal Data System registry data and Medicare claims for 52,922 hypertensive maintenance dialysis patients. All-cause mortality and a combined cardiovascular disease (CVD)-endpoint were modeled as functions of exposure to cardioprotective antihypertensive medications (renin angiotensin system antagonists, β-adrenergic blockers, and calcium channel blockers) measured with three time-dependent covariates (weekly exposure status, proportion of prior weeks with exposure, and number of switches in exposure status) and with propensity adjustment. Results: Current cardioprotective medication exposure status as compared to not exposed was associated with lower adjusted hazard ratios (AHRs) for mortality, though the magnitude depended upon the proportion of prior weeks with medication (duration) and the number of switches between active and non-active use (switches) (AHR range 0.54-0.90). Combined CVD-endpoints depended upon the proportion of weeks on medication: AHR = 1.18 for 10% and AHR = 0.90 for 90% of weeks. Combined CVD-endpoint was also lower for patients with fewer switches. Conclusions: Effectiveness depends not only on having a drug available but is tempered by duration and stability of use, likely reflecting variation in clinical stability and patient behavior.