Simple Steps Help After Heart Attack
Heart Attack Survivors Do Better at Taking Their Beta-Blockers If They Get Follow-Up Care, Reminder Letter
March 10, 2008 -- Heart attack survivors may do
better at taking vital medications if they get follow-up care and a reminder
That's the bottom line from two new studies published in today's edition of
the Archives of Internal Medicine.
One of the studies shows that heart attack survivors were more likely to
fill their prescriptions for cardiovascular drugs called
beta-blockers if they got two letters reminding them to do so.
That study included 836 U.S. heart attack survivors with prescriptions for
beta-blockers. Half of them got two letters, sent two months apart, about the
importance of taking beta-blockers. For comparison, the other half of the group
didn't get any reminder letters.
During the nine-month study, patients who got the reminder letters were more
likely to fill their beta-blocker prescriptions. They were 17% more likely than
patients in the comparison group to have their beta-blocker prescription filled
at least 80% of the time.
The findings are "encouraging," write the researchers, who included
David Smith, RPh, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest's Center for Health
Research in Portland, Ore.
The improvement in filling beta-blocker prescriptions was "relatively
modest," but "even a small improvement" is likely to be helpful,
notes editorialist Edward Havranek, MD, of Denver Health Medical Center's
Care After Heart Attack
The second study stresses the importance of getting follow-up care after a
heart attack -- ideally, with the patient's primary care physician and
cardiologist collaborating on that care.
The study shows that 1,516 U.S. heart attack survivors were more likely to
get beta-blocker prescriptions if they got early follow-up care after their
"These results suggest that outpatient follow-up, including
collaborative follow-up within the first weeks after [heart attack], may result
in higher-quality patient care," write the researchers, who included Stacie
Daugherty, MD, MSPH, of the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences
The study shows a "clear benefit" from follow-up care, writes
editorialist Elizabeth Jackson, MD, MPH, of the University of Michigan Health
System's cardiovascular medicine division.