Use of secondary preventive drugs after stroke
Abstract: Background Stroke is a serious condition that can have significant impact on an individual’s health and is a significant burden on public health and public finances. Secondary preventive drug treatment after stroke is important for decreasing the risk of recurrent strokes. Non-adherence to drug treatment hampers the treatment effect, especially in long-term preventive treatments. The aim of this thesis was to study the use of secondary preventive drugs after stroke among Swedish stroke patients in terms of inequalities in implementation in clinical practice and patient adherence to treatment over time.Methods Riks-Stroke, the Swedish stroke register, was used to sample stroke patients and as a source of information on background characteristics and medical and health care-related information including information on prescribed preventive drugs. The patients that were included had a stroke between 2004 and 2012. Individual patient data on prescriptions filled in Swedish pharmacies were retrieved from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register and used to estimate patient adherence to drug treatment. Data on education, income, and country of birth were included from the LISA database at Statistics Sweden. A questionnaire survey was used to collect information about patients’ perceptions about stroke, beliefs about medicines, and self-reported adherence.Results Results showed that a larger proportion of men than women were prescribed statins and warfarin after stroke. There was also a social stratification in the prescribing of statins. Patients with higher income and a higher level of education were more likely to be prescribed a statin compared to patients with low income and low level of education. Statins were also more often prescribed to patients born in Nordic countries, Europe, or outside of Europe compared to patients born in Sweden. Primary non-adherence (not continuing treatment at all within 4 months of discharge from hospital) was low for preventive drug treatment after stroke. Data on filled prescriptions, however, indicated that the proportion of patients who continued to use the drugs declined during the first 2 years after stroke. For most drugs, refill adherence in drug treatment was associated with female sex, good self-rated health, and living in institutions and (for antihypertensive drugs and statins) having used the drug before the stroke. For statins and warfarin, a first-ever stroke was also associated with continuous drug use. Self-reported adherence 3 months after stroke also showed associations with patients’ personal beliefs about medicines; non-adherent patients scored higher on negative beliefs and lower on positive beliefs about medicines.Conclusion Inequalities between men and women and between different socioeconomic groups were found in the prescribing of secondary preventive drugs after stroke. Only a small proportion of Swedish stroke patients did not continue treatment after discharge from hospital, but the proportion of non-adherent patients increased over time. Poor adherence to preventive drug treatment after stroke is a public health problem, and improving adherence to drug treatment requires consideration of patients’ personal beliefs and perceptions about drugs.
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