Plan A is to get patients to stick to their blood pressure pills

January 19, 2017, Springer

There is value in starting off patients with high blood pressure on an all-in-one pill. In the long run, it may help them stick to taking the potentially life-saving medicines prescribed to them. This advice is given to clinicians by Julie Lauffenburger and colleagues of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In a paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, published by Springer, the researchers found more value in fixed-dose combination pills that contain more than one type of medication, rather than separate pills for each drug.

The researchers evaluated data from claims submitted to a large national health insurer between 2009 and 2013. It included information from patients who had started using anti-hypertensive medication during this period to help lower their blood pressure. In all, 78,958 of those in the sample of 484,493 patients were started off on fixed-dose combinations (meaning that they took a single containing multiple drugs). A further 383,269 were prescribed a single therapy (only one type of medicine per pill), and 22,266 multi-pill combinations (two or more different anti-hypertensive tablets or capsules).

Fixed-dose combinations were found to work best to help patients keep on taking their anti-hypertensive medicines regularly. Such patients were 9 percent more likely to be persistent in taking their pill, while they were also 13 percent more likely to regularly use the treatment prescribed to them than patients who began using single anti-hypertensive therapy.

The findings also highlighted other factors that play a role in the type of treatment being prescribed, and the chances of people ultimately adhering to and persevering in taking their medication. Patients who started off on single therapies or multi-pill combinations were, for instance, generally sicker and more likely to regularly seek further medical help than those on fixed-dose combinations. They were also slightly less likely to refill their prescriptions. Those being prescribed fixed-dose combinations were generally older and female.

"Fixed-dose combination pills appear to enhance adherence and persistence to anti-hypertensive medications among commercially insured patients starting treatment compared with single therapy," says Lauffenburger, in summarizing the findings. "For patients beginning anti-hypertensive treatment, clinicians may therefore want to consider starting on a fixed-dose combination pill rather than a single therapy."

Explore further: The problem and potential solution of combining drugs

More information: Julie C. Lauffenburger et al, Effect of Combination Therapy on Adherence Among US Patients Initiating Therapy for Hypertension: a Cohort Study, Journal of General Internal Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s11606-016-3972-z

Related Stories

The problem and potential solution of combining drugs

January 10, 2017
Drugs are combined in endless ways—chemotherapy and anti-nausea pills; Advil and multivitamins; blood pressure medication and anti-depressants. Include treatments such as the herbs and acupuncture of traditional Chinese ...

Pill organizers could cause adverse effects among elderly

July 5, 2016
Older people who switch to using pill organisers could experience adverse effects and even hospitalisation - according to research from the University of East Anglia.

People more likely to take heart medicines in combo pill

November 6, 2012
People are much more likely to take heart medicines if they're combined in one pill, according to a late-breaking clinical trial presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.

'Less is more' when it comes to treating high blood pressure

March 19, 2009
A newly published study found patients actually have more control of their high blood pressure (hypertension) when treated with less medication. The study led by Dr. Ross D. Feldman, a clinical scientist with the Robarts ...

Nearly half of US adults with high blood pressure have it under control

October 22, 2012
Nearly half of U.S. adults with high blood pressure had their blood pressure under control by the end of 2010—a significant increase from the start of the decade, researchers reported in the American Heart Association journal ...

Taking blood pressure drugs at bedtime lowers diabetes risk

September 23, 2015
New research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) shows that taking blood pressure medications at bedtime, rather than in the morning, reduces blood pressure (BP) whilst ...

Recommended for you

Ultrasound could improve early detection of vascular diseases, research shows

August 21, 2018
Ultrasound conducted before a patient develops symptoms could improve early detection of diseases in blood vessels, research led by the University of Leicester has shown.

The molecular mechanism underlying hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

August 20, 2018
A study led by Stanford Medicine researchers shows why so many mutations associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disorder, alter a key constituent of muscle cells in a way that makes it work overtime.

Chagas disease, caused by a parasite, has spread outside of Latin America and carries a high risk of heart disease

August 20, 2018
Chagas disease, caused by infection with a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi (T cruzi), causes chronic heart disease in about one third of those infected. Over the past 40 years, Chagas disease has spread to areas where it ...

As body mass index increases, blood pressure may as well

August 17, 2018
Body mass index is positively associated with blood pressure, according to the ongoing study of 1.7 million Chinese men and women being conducted by researchers at the Yale Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) ...

Gout could increase heart disease risk

August 17, 2018
Having a type of inflammatory arthritis called gout may worsen heart-related outcomes for people being treated for coronary artery disease, according to new research.

Stroke patients treated at a teaching hospital are less likely to be readmitted

August 17, 2018
Stroke patients appear to receive better care at teaching hospitals with less of a chance of landing back in a hospital during the early stages of recovery, according to new research from The University of Texas Health Science ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

barakn
not rated yet Jan 19, 2017
Of course that's Plan A. It's the one guaranteed to make the most money for the drug companies. Plan A should be dietary modification, exercise, and stress reduction.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.