A study has found a startling

A study has found a startling

A study has found a startling trend among cardiovascular disease sufferers in Australia: many patients stop taking their medication after the first six to 24 months of starting treatment.

According to the study "Medicines for cardiovascular health: are they used appropriately?" conducted by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 to 25 percent of patients abandoned their medication six months after starting cardiovascular treatment regimen. A year and a half later, the number of patients no longer taking their medication increased dramatically. At 24 months, 21 to 47 percent of patients had stopped prescribed treatment.

"This may represent a significant lost opportunity to prevent cardiovascular disease or delay its progression and complications, with medicines known to be effective," said Susana Senes, a member of the institute''s cardiovasclar disease and diabetes unit, in a news release.

When patients are noncompliant, in other words, when they disregard the advice or instructions of their health care providers, proven treatments become ineffective. Noncompliance is especially concerning in cases of cardiovascular disease since medications used to treat or prevent the condition are prescribed for long-term or extended use.

With some conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, patients stop taking their medicine because they show no symptoms. Some patients do not understand their condition fully or may not believe they are benefitting from the treatment. Other patients stop taking their medication because of inadequate follow-up planning, or poor communication with their health professional.

Luckily, those obstacles can be easily avoided. Patients can consult with their doctors about their condition and treatment, and ask questions so they understand the long-term plan for cardiovascular disease treatment and prevention, and stay on track.

The study also found that Australian doctors are doing more to utilize existing treatments. The number of prescriptions of cholesterol-lowering agents, some blood pressure-lowering medicines, clot preventing medicines, and beta-blocking agents used to combat heart failure for cardiovascular patients has steadily increased since 2000.

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