RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans today.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 750,000 Americans suffer heart attacks each year. After a heart attack, it is essential for patients to take certain medications—including drugs to lower cholesterol—in order to prevent a second heart attack. Now, a disturbing new study shows that many heart attack survivors are not taking their cholesterol medicines as prescribed.
1. Tell us about cholesterol drugs after a heart attack and why they are important
One of the biggest risk factors for heart attack is having high cholesterol. We know from numerous studies that drugs called statins actually can prolong life in patients with heart disease. These drugs—along with others—can actually help reduce the amount of plaque in your heart arteries and, in combination with diet and exercise, can reduce your risk for future events.
2. What exactly did this study show?
The study—which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association—looked at the records of 29,932 Medicare patients ages 66 to 75 who had been hospitalized for a heart attack from 2007 through 2012 and had filled a prescription for a statin. They found that six months after their heart attack, only 58.9 percent of them were still taking the medicine. By two years, only 41.6 percent were taking it as directed. Many took lower dosages than prescribed, and nearly one in five had stopped taking the medicine completely.
3. Why did this happen and what do you recommend?
There are many reasons that folks may not take their medication after a heart attack such as the high cost of medications, side effects, and a lack of understanding as to why the medication it’s important top the list.
As we all know, a heart attack can be a life-changing experience. The best way to avoid another heart attack is to change your lifestyle and modify risk factors. This includes taking medications such as statins that lower cholesterol and have been shown to prolong life in patients with heart disease. In addition, it is important to engage with your cardiologist and work together to reduce your risk and improve your overall cardiac health.