Reminders for Sticking to Meds for Acute Coronary Syndrome

Acute coronary syndrome patients found to be more likely to stick to their medication with reminders and educational messages

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Dominique Brooks, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Patients are often prescribed several medications after being hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome. Some patients may find it hard to remember to take all those medications.

But there may be ways to help patients stick to their medication schedule. 

A recent study found that through patient education, care coordination between a patient’s pharmacist and physician, as well as voicemail reminders, patients were more likely to stick to their medication regimens in the year after being hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome (reduced blood flow to the heart).

The authors of this study noted that more research is needed to find out whether this program would actually improve patient outcomes.

"Take your medication as instructed by your physician."

This study was led by P. Michael Ho, MD, PhD, from the Department of Medicine at Denver VA Medical Center. The research team examined the effects of a four-part intervention on medication adherence in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

Dr. Ho and colleagues analyzed data from 253 ACS patients from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. There were 124 patients in the standard care group and 129 patients in the intervention group.

The first part of the intervention involved medication reconciliation and tailoring.

For this part, a pharmacist spoke with patients either in person or by phone within seven to 10 days after hospital discharge to discuss any problems with the medications or side effects. The pharmacist also came up with a treatment plan that incorporated both the medications that patients were taking before being admitted to the hospital and after leaving the hospital. 

The second part of the intervention was patient education. Patients received educational messages about medications one week after they were discharged from the hospital and again one month after discharge to ensure they hadn't forgotten the information.

The third part of the intervention was collaborative care in which the pharmacist notified the patient’s primary care physician and cardiologist that the patient was enrolled in the intervention.

The fourth and final part of the intervention was voice messaging in which patients were contacted at regularly scheduled times to be reminded to take their medication and to have their medications refilled.

The researchers found that about 89 percent of patients in the intervention group stuck to their medications, compared with about 74 percent of the standard care group.

The researchers also found that the proportion of days in which patients had their medication available was greater in the intervention group than in the standard care group.

They did not find a statistically significant difference in the proportion of patients who achieved their pre-determined blood pressure and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) level goals.

The authors of this study noted that an intervention program like theirs could be replicated in any other hospital care setting and the cost of the program was modest at only $360 per patient.

This study was published on November 18 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study authors reported no competing interests.

Review Date: 
November 16, 2013
Last Updated:
November 25, 2013