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Failure to Take Medicine Linked to Unnecessary Hospital Visits, Especially for Medicare Patients Taking High Blood Pressure or High Cholesterol Medications
Date:5/11/2012

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One study, looking at patients age 65 and older using cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins, found that the least-adherent patients had a 28 percent increased risk of cardiovascular hospitalizations compared with the adherent patients.  The second study, looking at the 65 and older population using high blood pressure medications, showed that the least-adherent patients had a 31 percent higher cardiovascular hospitalization rate during the one-year follow-up period.

The risk of emergency room visits was also highest among the least-adherent patients in both studies, with a 43 percent higher rate for those using statin medications and a 29 percent higher rate for those using antihypertensive medications.

Additionally, the study focused on antihypertensive medications found that the greatest risk of cardiovascular hospitalizations and emergency room visits within the least-adherent group were Medicare Part D plan patients, with a 42 percent increased risk of hospitalization and a 49 percent higher risk for an emergency room visit.  In both studies, patients covered by Medicare Part D had higher prevalence of hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure and diabetes than those in other prescription benefit plans.

"Even when you account for unique attributes of the Medicare population – such as a higher prevalence of co-morbidities – it's still resoundingly clear that improving adherence to these medications can help keep people healthier and avoid unnecessary cardiovascular hospitalizations," said Pittman.

Past data suggest, on average, one-third to one-half of all patients do not comply with prescribed treatment regimens.  In the two new studies, one-in-four of the study subjects were nonadherent to statins, and one-in-seven members were not adherent to their hypertension medications. 

"It's encouraging that the patients in these studies were actually more adherent
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SOURCE Express Scripts
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