Pricey Cardiac Pills

Heart failure patients don't take medications because of cost

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) One of the most important things that heart patients can do to better their health is to take the drugs they are prescribed. However, many patients skip out on their pills, often because prescription drugs costs are high.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that patients weren't filling their prescriptions because they are too expensive. Nearly half of the patients who participated in the study had stopped taking statins (a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol) or failed to refill their prescriptions because of cost.

Younger patients were a bit less likely than older patients to take their heart drugs. Women were more likely than men to stay on certain drug treatments.

dailyRx Insight: Heart fpatients should speak to their doctors about Rx costs.

From a study involving 209 patients between 60 and 86 years of age, Shannon Dunlay, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, and colleagues found that 46 percent of participants stopped taking statins or did not refill their prescription because of cost. They also found that 23 percent of the patients skipped doses in order to save money.

Even though all but 23 percent of the patients were covered by Medicare, the costs of prescription drugs was still an important problem for people.

If heart failure patients are concerned about the costs of their medications, they should tell their doctor, says Dunlay. Many prescription drugs have less costly alternatives.

Heart disease (coronary artery disease, CAD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. CAD is primarily results from diet and habits, with the greatest risk factors coming from smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Genetics and family history also play a large part. The primary symptom of angina, commonly known as chest pain, occurs when the artery is almost completely blocked. Plaques made up of cholesterol and fibrous tissue lodge in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and restrict blood flow to the heart muscle. Complete closure or rupture of the plaque can cause a myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack. Preventive surgical treatment is common, either by angioplasty and coronary stents (widening a blocked artery) or coronary artery bypass grafting (surgically replacing a damaged coronary artery with another one from the body).Management consists of a host of different medications for high blood pressure (diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors), and cholesterol control (statins like Lipitor, Crestor) as well as secondary measures such as daily aspirin, anti-platelet medication (Plavix), and exercise.

The results of this study are published in the April 2011 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 30, 2011
Last Updated:
March 31, 2011