Non-adherence to cardiovascular medicine: Tackling the ‘global threat’

This upcoming weekend, international cardiovascular (CV) experts will descend on San Diego to attend the American College of Cardiology 64th Annual Scientific Session and Expo. During the congress, delegates will hear about new advances in the management and treatment of CV disease, which claims over 17 million lives every year.1 While science continues to march forwards, one of the key challenges now facing the cardiology community is patient non-adherence to treatment.

Defining non-adherence

Non-adherence is when a patient does not take their medication as frequently as prescribed or for the period of time recommended by their physician.2

The clinical implications are clear, with poor adherence to CV therapy increasing so does the risk of poorer patient outcomes and death.2Risks relating to non-adherence have been reported in many studies and remain an ongoing challenge for treating physicians as well as patients around the world.

However, the issue of non-adherence is widely recognised by the medical community, with healthcare systems, physicians and the pharmaceutical industry working together to offer possible solutions and support tools to physicians and patients. AstraZeneca is committed to addressing the issue of improving patient adherence and is a key supporter of multiple initiatives around the world. AstraZeneca has initiated the BRILINTA Patient Support Service, a series of resources delivered to help patients and caregivers from hospital discharge throughout their treatment pathway. In addition,

AstraZeneca is proud to be the founding sponsor of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Patient Navigator Program, a ground-breaking initiative designed to help hospitals reduce avoidable hospital readmissions through a team-based approach to patient care. It is vital to continue to invest in delivering support and the tools needed to address the adherence gap so that we can ensure patients are receiving the true benefits of the innovative treatment options available today.

Addressing the adherence gap

What remains clear is that the question of non-adherence needs to be addressed. This will then allow the medical community to concentrate on delivering the most effective treatments and ensuring the best outcomes for patients around the world. AstraZeneca is fully committed to working with physicians, patients and healthcare systems to ensure that they are provided with the necessary tools to directly address adherence issues.

Associated risks

Non-adherence to cardiovascular therapy is associated with increased mortality. A recent study has shown that patients who stop taking their medication experienced a five-fold increase in the number of deaths versus those who remained adherent,2 reinforcing the importance of tackling the non-adherence pandemic.

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1. World Health Organisation. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), fact sheet N°317, updated January 2015. Available at: Last accessed February 2015.

2. Kolandaivelu et al. (2014). Non-adherence to cardiovascular medications. Eur Heart J 35:3267-76.