More Than Half of Heart Failure Patients On 10 or More Medications

After hospital admittance, the number of patients with heart failure who are on 10 or more medications rises.

More than half of older patients hospitalized for heart failure are discharged from the hospital with 10 or more medication prescriptions, according to an article published in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should, according to the study. Growing treatment options have led to an increase in available therapeutics; however, many of these medications have complications and negative consequences associated with them.

Investigators examined the medical charts of 558 adults, aged 65 years and older, covered by Medicare and hospitalized for heart failure between 2003 and 2014 from 380 hospitals in the United States. All of the participants took part in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study, which is a large study with an ongoing follow-up.

Upon admission to the hospital, 84% of participants were taking 5 or more medications, whereas 42% were taking 10 or more. After discharge, 95% were prescribed 5 or more medications and 55% were prescribed 10 or more medications, according to the study. The majority of the medications taken by participants with heart failure were not to treat heart failure.

"The medication burden for older adults with heart failure was higher following a heart failure hospitalization. Some of these drugs may be appropriate. However, our prior work has shown that many patients are discharged with prescriptions for medications that can worsen heart failure. This supports the ongoing need for improved and routine medication review processes prior to hospital discharge, and particularly in the immediate post-discharge period where the risk of hospital readmission is particularly high," said Parag Goyal, MD, MSc, senior study author and assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a geriatric cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, in the press release.

The study was conducted prior to the approval of several new heart failure medications, according to the study. This means that the number of patients being prescribed 10 or more medications may be even higher today.

Reference:

Ten or more medications, often prescribed to older heart failure patients, raises concerns [News Release] October 13, 2020; Dallas, TX. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/aha-tom100820.php. Accessed October 14, 2020