Medication adherence is low among patients with reduced renal function who have suffered a myocardial infarction (MI), according to a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2011; online ahead of print).

In a study led by Wolfgang C. Winkelmayer, MD, ScD, of Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., researchers examined long-term outpatient medication adherence in patients with kidney dysfunction who are at high risk for recurrent MI. The study included 2,103 patients aged 65 years and older who had experience a recent MI. The investigators used pharmacy insurance claims records to determine the percentage of days that patients actually had their prescribed medications.

Researchers found low long-term adherence rates for three major classes of heart medications: ACE inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers, and statins. Over three years’ follow-up, the patients had their prescribed drugs for only 50%-60% of the time.

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“Several types of medications have proven benefit for preventing recurrent heart attacks, yet only about half of people with heart disease take their medications correctly,” Dr. Winkelmayer stated. “Adherence was lower in patients with more pronounced kidney dysfunction.”