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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Drug adherence 'vital' to cut strokes

Wednesday July 17th, 2013

People with high blood pressure substantially raise their risk of stroke if they do not take their prescribed drugs, new research warns.

High blood pressure is the top cause of stroke, a condition which causes 11% of all deaths worldwide. Anti-hypertensive drugs, which lower blood pressure, are highly effective but it is vital that patients adhere to their drug regime.

Dr Kimmo Herttua of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues looked at the importance of adherence by examining Finnish national registers for 13 years until December 2007.

There were 73,527 patients aged 30 years or older with high blood pressure and without pre-existing stroke or heart disease. Of these, 2,144 died from stroke and 24,560 were hospitalised due to stroke during the 13 years.

Those who did not adhere to their medication had over three times the risk of dying from stroke. Risk of hospitalisation was roughly doubled. Mortality risk was much higher when looking at drug adherence in the year prior to death - nearly six times higher than for those who took their medication.

Results are published in the European Heart Journal today (17 July). "The poorer the adherence, the greater the risk of death and hospitalisation due to stroke," write the authors.

They conclude: "These data suggest that poor adherence to antihypertensive therapy substantially increases near- and long-term risk of stroke among hypertensive patients."

Dr Herttua adds: "As far as we know, this study is unique as it is the first study to follow patients over a long period of time, repeatedly checking how correctly they are taking their medications, and linking the trajectory of adherence with the risk of fatal and non-fatal stroke."

Herttua, K. et al. Adherence to antihypertensive therapy prior to the first presentation of stroke in hypertensive adults: population based study. European Heart Journal 17 July 2013 doi:10.1093/eurheartj/eht219

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals

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