Stroke Patients Failing to Take Meds Following Hospitalization

August 12, 2010

Findings from new study indicate that one-quarter of stroke patients failed to take their prescribed regimen of secondary prevention medications within 3 months of hospitalization for an acute stroke.

Findings from new study indicate that one-quarter of stroke patients failed to take their prescribed regimen of secondary prevention medications within 3 months of hospitalization for an acute stroke.

For the study, Cheryl D. Bushnell, MD, MHS, of Wake Forest University Health Sciences, and colleagues measured longitudinal use of stroke prevention medications following stroke hospital discharge, hypothesizing that “a combination of patient-, provider-, and system-level factors influence medication-taking behavior.”

The researchers observed 2,800 patients being treated at six hospitals participating in the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines stroke program for ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. Drugs prescribed included antiplatelet therapies, warfarin, antihypertensive therapies, lipid-lowering therapies, and diabetes medications, according to a report of the study published in the Archives of Neurology.

Of the 2,598 patients who were eligible for analysis, 75.5% continued taking all secondary prevention medications prescribed at discharge at the 3-month mark. Factors associated with persistence at 3 months in taking all of the prescribed medications included “decreasing number of medication classes prescribed, increasing age, medical history, less severe stroke disability, having insurance, working status, understanding why medications are prescribed and how to refill them, increased quality of life, financial hardship, geographic region, and hospital size.”

The factors that were identified as being associated with regimen persistence could be targets for improving long-term secondary stroke prevention, said the authors.