Make Pills a Priority After Heart Attack
Death Risk Rises for Heart Attack Survivors Who Don't Fill All Prescriptions
Feb. 25, 2008 -- Heart attack survivors may be
more likely to live at least one more year if they promptly fill all their prescriptions.
That news comes from a Canadian study, in which drug cost to patients wasn't
a major factor.
The new study, published online in Circulation, makes three main
- Filling all prescriptions, not just some of them, is a must after a heart
- Heart attack survivors may be more likely to fill prescriptions if they get
- Doctors should follow up with patients one or two weeks after a patient's
heart attack to make sure all prescriptions have been filled.
The findings are based on
prescription records for about 4,500 heart attack survivors (average age: 76)
All of the patients were given
prescriptions after their heart attacks. Those prescriptions included cardiac
drugs -- such as ACE inhibitors, statins, and beta-blockers -- as well as
noncardiac drugs including supplements, antibiotics, antidepressants, and respiratory
Most of the patients -- 74% --
filled all of their prescriptions within four months. And most did so
within one week.
Unfilled Prescriptions, Higher Death Rate
Patients who delayed or dismissed their prescriptions had higher death rates
in the first year after heart attack.
In the first year after heart attack, the odds of dying were 80% higher for
those who filled none of their prescriptions within four months, compared with those
who filled all of their prescriptions.
Death risk during the first year
after heart attack was 44% higher for patients who only filled some of their
prescriptions within four months, compared with those who filled all of their
prescriptions within three months.
Older patients and those who already had a lot of prescriptions before their
heart attack were less likely to fill all of their post-heart attack
But regardless of age, "it would be prudent to follow up with patients
one to two weeks after discharge," write the researchers. They included
Cynthia Jackevicius, BSc, MSc, PharmD, of Ontario's University Health
Filling prescriptions is just the first step. Previous research has shown
that patients don't always take their drugs. It's not clear if the patients in
Jackevicius' study took their prescribed pills.