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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Stroke and heart patients receiving poor medication

31st August 2011

A study published in The Lancet has shown that many patients with heart disease or stroke are failing to receive the most effective low-cost drugs to treat their condition.

The findings of the PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological) study found that problems of access to the best drugs are more common in low-income countries, where about 80% of patients reported receiving none of these drugs.

It is feared that some 60% of people with heart disease and 50% of patients who have had a stroke might not be taking any of the four effective drug types, which include antiplatelet drugs (mainly aspirin), beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors or angiotensin-receptor blockers and statins.

The findings were also presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris and suggested that improvements in the use of these low-cost drugs could substantially reduce global cardiovascular disease within a few years.

The PURE study assessed the use of four key secondary preventive and blood-pressure-lowering drugs in the community in three high-income countries (Canada, Sweden, United Arab Emirates), 10 middle-income countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, China, Colombia, Iran), and four low-income countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe).

The authors found wide variations in access to such drugs.

They said the use of accessible and inexpensive treatments such as aspirin varied seven-fold between low-income and high-income countries but the use of statins varied 20-fold.

They concluded: “Improvements to the uptake of effective secondary prevention strategies are probably more feasible than lifestyle modifications in primary prevention…but this will require systematic programmes in most countries.”


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