Background: Stroke and myocardial infarction (MI) are both life-threatening diseases of vascular origin with a tendency to recur. In both conditions, risk of recurrence is reduced through similar drug regimens.
Aim: To determine if compliance with prescribed medication after stroke or MI was similar in the two populations.
Setting and design: Retrospective data collection and cross-sectional telephonic survey of patients discharged from a single academic medical center.
Materials and methods: Adult patients consecutively discharged over a two-year period with a diagnosis of first-ever stroke (ischemic or hemorrhagic) or first-ever MI (ST-elevation) were identified through ICD-9 codes. Clinical details were abstracted from hospital records. Medication compliance was assessed through a structured telephone interview.
Statistical analysis: Bivariate analysis using Chi-square and Fisher exact tests, to determine the prevalence of noncompliance in stroke versus MI patients and differences in baseline characteristics and multivariate analysis with logistic regression to determine independent predictors of noncompliance.
Results: Follow-up data was collected for 298 stroke and 275 MI patients. Compliance was lower in stroke patients (68% stroke patients compliant with at least half their discharge prescriptions versus 90% MI patients; P < 0.001). Literacy and post-discharge follow-up were associated with greater compliance (P < 0.05 for both). Compliance was highest with anti-hypertensive drugs (98% after MI, 78% after stroke), followed by anti-platelet agents (94% after MI, 75% after stroke) and anti-lipid agents (70% after MI, 59% after stroke). Patients reported simply not feeling the need, acquiring fresh medical advice or a perceived lack of benefit, as reasons for not complying with their discharge prescriptions.
Conclusions: Although similar drugs are involved, compliance with prescribed regimens is appreciably lower after stroke than after MI. Our findings underscore the need for better patient education regarding secondary prevention after stroke.