Keeping Heart Patients Healthier

ThinkstockPhotos-176438043Physicians who routinely review with their patients the medications they should be taking are more likely to have patients adhere to their medications and achieve health goals, according to University of Cincinnati heart researcher Dylan Steen, MD, assistant professor and director of clinical trials and population health research in the UC Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease. Steen reported on the findings at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions held in March.

“Discontinuation of the most important medications is common early after serious cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, and those patients who stop taking their medication have a much higher incidence of adverse health outcomes,” says Steen. “We implemented guideline-based performance reports to improve adherence to the most important medications during the course of a large, international clinical trial.”

Steen and his team of researchers tracked the use of aspirin, clopidogrel, statins, beta blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers—standard medications prescribed following coronary events—and all of which reduce the progression of cardiovascular disease. He said that tracking reports in previous trials have demonstrated excellent use of these medications for 12 months.

“This is a demonstration that in a broad population, excellent medication utilization can be achieved,” says Steen. “It supports the randomized clinical trial data that shows that these medicines are well tolerated.  The reasons patients stop their medications in the vast majority of cases include inadequate understanding of their health benefits, perception of tolerability issues, and having to deal with complex medical, pharmacy and insurance issues.”

“By having a mechanism to consistently identify patients who are not taking these medications, health care providers can initiate a discussion with these patients to identify what concerns each may have and potentially come up with solutions,” says Steen.

Tips for taking heart medication to help keep you and your heart healthy:

  • Talk with your doctor and pharmacist. They can help you better understand the correct amounts and when and how often to take both prescription and OTC medicines.
  • Share your information. Make your doctor and pharmacist aware of all the medicines you are taking.
  • Mind your meds. Keep track of your medicines on a daily basis.
  • Be consistent. Take your medicines consistently and almost always you want to take them at the same time of day.
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