A new study shows that, within 6 months of starting medicationsto lower blood pressure (BP) and cholesterol levels, 1 in 3patients stopped taking those medications. The study focused onpatients with both conditions, who are at a substantially greaterrisk of heart disease and cardiac events than patients with eithercondition alone. The researchers analyzed a managed careorganization's database and identified more than 8400 patientswho were on both BP and cholesterol medication. They thentracked these patients' drug regimens for ~13 months. Theyfound that, after 3 months of receiving the initial prescriptions,only 44.7% of patients were still taking both medications as prescribed.This number dropped to <36% at the 6-month and 12-month marks. The researchers also found that 25.3% to 29.6%of patients were taking one medicine properly, but failing to followinstructions for the second drug. Older patients were morelikely not to comply than their younger counterparts, and womenwere less likely to adhere to their regimens than men, theresearchers found.
The strongest predictor of adherence was the number of othermedications a patient was already taking in the year prior to startingthe new dual regimen. As the overall number of previous prescriptionsincreased, the likelihood of noncompliance alsoincreased. Also, the time between starting both treatmentsseemed to factor into adherence. Patients who started takingboth drugs on the same day or within a month of each other were34% more likely to stick to both regimens during the 3-year study,compared with patients who started both drugs up to 3 monthsapart.