Simple Guide Helps Diabetics Manage Their Meds

Questionnaire promotes better doctor-patient talks about statin drugs

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TUESDAY, May 29, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- An easy-to-follow guide can boost the number of diabetes patients who take their cholesterol-lowering statin medications as prescribed, according to a new Mayo Clinic-led study.

Statins can reduce the risk of heart disease, a common complicating factor with diabetes.

The guide, designed to act as a decision aid to promote patient-doctor discussions about medication, included four questions directed at patients: What is your risk of having a heart attack in 10 years?; what are the benefits of taking statins as compared to not taking statins?; what side effects can you expect from statins?; what do you want to do now?

The guide also provides patients with individually-tailored answers to the first three questions.

"Conversations with patients about prescription medications tend to be brief and incomplete, but we found that when a decision aid was introduced, it was the start of a conversation in which the patient -- now better equipped with information -- felt empowered to participate in deciding whether a statin would be appropriate for them," Dr. Victor Montori, the study's lead investigator and a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues found that only about 50 percent of patients were satisfied with the way they normally received information about statins, compared with a satisfaction rate of 84 percent when they used the decision aid.

Among patients who used the decision aid, there was a threefold increase in the percentage of those still taking a statin after three months. The study also found that the decision aid had more of an impact among patients at high risk for heart attack than those with at low risk.

The study appears in the May 28 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, May 28, 2007


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