Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Million Hearts Colorado: New study finds lower medicine co-payments boost adherence

new study finds that lower medication costs produced better outcomes for heart patients. Heart attack survivors are more likely to take prescribed medicines if their co-payments are eliminated.

"African-Americans and Hispanics with cardiovascular disease are up to 40 percent less likely than whites to receive secondary prevention therapies, such as aspirin and beta-blockers," researchers said. Sticking with their drug treatment plan reduces these patients' risk for future heart problems and additional health care costs.

"Our research demonstrates that not only does eliminating medication co-payments following a heart attack positively impact the disparity we know exists in cardiovascular care and improve outcomes for nonwhite patients," but has the potential to reduce health care spending for this group.

It's estimated that additional health care costs due to patients not taking recommended medications are as high as $290 billion a year in the United States.

Researchers analyzed data from a clinical trial and found that nonwhite heart attack patients had much lower rates of medication adherence and much higher rates of subsequent heart problems and treatment than white patients.

Eliminating drug copayments boosted medication adherence in both white and nonwhite patients. Among nonwhite patients, it also reduced rates of future heart problems and treatments by 35 percent and total health care spending by 70 percent. This effect on heart health and spending wasn't seen in white patients.

Medication adherence is a key strategy of the  Million Hearts Initiative, an effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years.  Colorado participates in this initiative and you can too. Be one in a million - make your commitment and pledge today.

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