How smartphone app gets heart patients to follow their medicine prescriptions


Forget doctor's instructions: New research shows a smartphone app is the best way to get heart patients to remember to take their prescribed medication.

Heart attack survivors are typically prescribed medications to prevent another attack, but one in four stop taking at least one drug within 30 days after leaving the hospital. That increases the chance of re-hospitalisation and premature death.

In this study, researchers compared the use of a smartphone app to written instructions to remind 90 heart attack patients, average age 63, to take their medications.

The app sounded an alarm each time a pill should be taken. After taking it, the patient confirmed it in the app. Through digital access to the app, doctors could check if patients were taking their medications.

Greater impact than expected

After 90 days, 65% in the app group were correctly taking their pills versus 21% of those given written instructions, the findings showed.

"We hypothesised that the app would increase adherence by 30%, but the impact was even greater," study author Dr Cristian Garmendia said in a European Society of Cardiology news release. Garmendia is a resident heart specialist at the Cardiovascular Institute of Buenos Aires.

The study also looked at the number of patients who were hospitalised with another heart attack or had an unplanned visit to a doctor or emergency department. Researchers found no difference between the two groups.

"This may be due to the relatively small number of patients or the low rate of events," said study senior author Dr Juan Pablo Costabel, head of the institute's coronary unit. "This was an exploratory endpoint, but our next study will be designed with these outcomes as the primary endpoint."

The findings were scheduled for presentation at a meeting of the Argentine Congress of Cardiology, in Buenos Aires.

Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Image credit: iStock

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