Objective: Combination therapy, specifically with aspirin, cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering drugs, substantially reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, but the full preventive effect is only realized if treatment continues indefinitely. Our objective was to provide a summary estimate of adherence to drugs that prevent coronary heart disease, according to drug class and use in people who have had a myocardial infarction (secondary prevention) and people who have not (primary prevention).
Methods: A meta-analysis of data on 376,162 patients from 20 studies assessing adherence using prescription refill frequency for the following 7 drug classes was performed: aspirin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers, thiazides, and statins. Meta-regression was used to examine the effects of age, payment, and treatment duration.
Results: The summary estimate for adherence across all studies was 57% (95% confidence interval [CI], 50-64) after a median of 24 months. There were statistically significant differences in adherence between primary and secondary prevention: 50% (CI, 45-56) and 66% (CI, 56-75), respectively (P=.012). Adherence was lower for thiazides (42%) than for angiotensin receptor blockers (61%) in primary prevention (P=.02). There were no other statistically significant differences between any of the drug classes in primary or secondary prevention studies. Adherence decreased by 0.15% points/month (P=.07) and was unrelated to age or whether patients paid for their pills.
Conclusion: Adherence to preventive treatment is poor and little related to class of drug, suggesting that side effects are not the main cause. General, rather than class-specific, measures at improving adherence are needed.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.