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Cost of Heart Drugs Makes Patients Skip Pills, Putting Themselves at Risk

Posted Mar 30 2011 5:02pm

For more than 5 million Americans with heart failure, a critical step to better health is taking the medications they’re prescribed. But many patients fail to do so, putting themselves at greater risk of hospitalization and even death. To date, studies have not fully answered why patients fall short when it comes to taking heart medicine. In a study appearing in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic researchers found the drugs’ cost is one of the biggest deterrents.

“We found patients weren’t filling their prescriptions because of the expense,” says Shannon Dunlay, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and lead author.

The study recruited patients from Olmsted County, Minn., and tracked their pharmacy records. Previous studies looked only at electronic prescription claims data, possibly missing drugs purchased with cash or not covered by insurance, Dr. Dunlay says. The 209 patients in the study, ages 60 to 86, were asked how often they missed doses or didn’t take drugs at all, and why.

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