Cardiovascular medicine, Pharma Dynamics has urged patients to take their medication as prescribed to avoid preventable deaths and hospitalisations, as 60% of heart disease patients are not taking their medication as prescribed in South Africa.
This comes after the Journal of SA Family Practice reported that only 41.9% of heart patients are adhering to antihypertensive treatment regimes, which is extremely low when juxtaposed against the 90% adherence rate among HIV-positive patients on antiretrovirals.
The Journal states that after HIV/Aids, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in South Africa, with one in three people over the age of 25 suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure), which makes the diagnosis and management of the disease early on so important.
"Non-adherence to prescribed medicine regimens is a pervasive medical problem that is costing many people their health and the healthcare system billions of rands," Pharma Dynamics spokesperson Nicole Jennings said.
"While there is much room for improvement, addressing medication non-adherence is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach," Jennings said.
Jennings further cites cost, complex regimes, forgetfulness, lack of understanding, and psychological factors as some common reasons why heart patients may not be taking their hypertensive medication.
"Not taking medication as prescribed can have serious consequences, especially for individuals with cardiovascular diseases. Non-adherence also increases the risk of hospitalisation by 10–40% and the risk of mortality by 50–80%.
Other consequences may also include:
Increased risk of heart events
Failure to take heart medications as prescribed can significantly increase the risk of heart-related events such as heart attacks, strokes, and unstable angina.
Medications like angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), antiplatelet drugs, beta-blockers, and anticoagulants are often prescribed to prevent these events.
Worsening of heart disease
Cardiovascular medications are typically prescribed to manage and stabilise heart diseases such as hypertension, heart failure, and arrhythmias. Non-adherence can lead to the progression of these conditions, resulting in more severe symptoms and complications.
Medication non-adherence can lead to exacerbations of heart conditions, which may require hospitalisation.
Heart failure patients, for example, may experience fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary oedema) or other complications that necessitate urgent medical attention.
Increased mortality risk
Ultimately, non-adherence to heart medications can increase the risk of premature death, especially in cases of severe heart disease.
Complications in other organs
CVD can impact other organs and systems in the body. For example, untreated hypertension can damage the kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels. Non-adherence can exacerbate these complications.
Increased healthcare costs
Non-adherence can result in more frequent doctor visits, hospitalisations, and additional medical interventions, leading to higher healthcare costs for both individuals and the healthcare system.