Older Adults Don’t Take Up Cross of Adhering to Meds After Heart Attacks

When Jesus said we should take up our cross and follow him, he wasn’t just referring to the sort of cross on which he was crucified.

There are many crosses we all have to bear in life, and for those who have had a heart attack, one of those crosses is taking a bunch of pills every day.

A new study finds that older adults who have had a heart attack don’t tend to adhere to their prescribed drugs.

“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 Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

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. [Steve, I’d restate this in a more accessible way for your non-scientist audience]

“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.


About Joel Whitaker

Joel Whitaker is a long-time professional journalist (Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Bulletin, Institutional Investor, executive newsletters) and Catholic convert. He is the RCIA coordinator for his parish.
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