Heart Attack Patients Skipping Important Meds

More than half don't take beta blockers as prescribed, study finds

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MONDAY, Sept. 18, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Many U.S. heart attack patients are not taking their medications as prescribed, according to new research.

In a study published in the September issue of the American Heart Journal, researchers from Duke University followed more than 17,000 heart attack patients for a year after their discharge from the hospital.

The researchers used prescription drug claims to estimate the patients' usage of beta blocker drugs, which can reduce the risk of future heart attacks.

Surprisingly, only 45 percent of the patients who were prescribed beta blocker drugs and who had some prescription drug insurance coverage were regularly taking them during the first year after leaving the hospital.

"In the population of patients we studied with health insurance and prescription drug coverage, we found adherence to beta blockers during the first year following a heart attack to be quite poor, indicating that factors other than the cost of the medicine are important to long-term adherence," study leader Judith Kramer, an associate professor at the Duke University Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

Kramer emphasized that patients should realize that beta blockers must be taken for the rest of their lives to get the benefits.

"Strategies to maintain adherence must focus not only on community physicians to maintain prescribing, but also on patients and their families," she said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart attack.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Sept. 12, 2006

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