Skip to Main Content

News Center

Older Adults Tend Not to Stick With Their Meds Following Heart Attacks

New School of Pharmacy study of Medicare patients after heart attacks revealed an overall low exposure to the four medication classes.

By Steve Berberich
October 10, 2012

Older adults who have had a heart attack don’t tend to adhere to their prescribed drugs according to a new study of Medicare beneficiaries by the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

“The purpose of our study was to discover the extent to which four classes of medications were used by patients after their hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction [AMI], or heart attack,” explains the lead author of the study, Ilene Zuckerman, PharmD, PhD, professor and chair of the School’s Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research.

The study revealed an overall low exposure to the four medication classes in the study: statins, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone inhibitors, beta-blockers and clopidogrel, for periods as long as 33 months after release from the hospital. They are the same medication classes in previous studies, but the researchers found that the magnitude of exposure to these medications was generally lower than in previous studies.

“It is reasonable to conclude that efforts to increase patient adherence to [the drugs] may have a long-term beneficial effect on health outcomes after AMI,” said Zuckerman.

“Availability of Medicare Part D data for research has made it possible to understand drug use and adherence patterns and to examine the effectiveness of medications in the Medicare population,” explains Zuckerman. This pharmacoepidemiological study is an example of research that measures the effectiveness of drugs in “real-world” settings and reflects practice outside of a controlled clinical trial environment.

The study is in the online issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Related News Stories