Strong Adherence to Stroke Medication is Crucial

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A new study emphasises the importance of survivors of first-time stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) to take medications on an ongoing basis, highlighting long-term associations with survival.

Stroke is the second leading risk of death worldwide, with In 2016, the average lifetime risk of stroke after 25 for the global population was 24.9%. Nearly half of all survivors of stroke are expected to experience a recurrent cardiovascular event within 10 years. Specific medications help to prevent this long-term risk, but adherence to these agents is often suboptimal among patients.

The study, published in Stroke, demonstrates the importance of medication adherence after stroke to maximise survival, even for patients with near-perfect adherence. These findings are in support of targeted initiatives to maximise medication adherence after stroke/TIA, such as implementation of medication reminder systems, mobile health technologies, increased follow-up by clinicians or complex behaviour change programs.

Drawing from Australian databases, the study enrolled 8363 adult patients who survived a first stroke or TIA between July 2010 and June 2014, with follow-up for a further three years. For patients with one-year adherence above 60%, each 10% improvement in adherence was associated with a 13-15% reduction in mortality risk. These results suggest that aiming for an arbitrary adherence target of 80% may be inappropriate as maximal survival benefits were observed closer to 100% adherence.

The study’s lead author, Associate Professor Monique Kilkenny, said continued use of secondary prevention medications can be improved with several factors: provision of medication on hospital discharge, regular contact with a primary care physician, and specialist physician contact.

“These findings represent important implications for practice by highlighting the value of efforts to improve medication adherence post-stroke/TIA, even among patients with near-perfect adherence,” said Associate Professor Kilkenny.

“Our findings provide evidence in support of targeted initiatives to maximise medication adherence after stroke/TIA and there is considerable scope for further interventions to improve medication adherence.”

Source: Monash University

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