Secondary prevention medications in cardiac patients improve outcomes. However, prescription rates for these drugs and long-term adherence are suboptimal.
To determine whether an enhanced secondary prevention program improves outcomes.
Hospitalized patients with indications for secondary prevention medications were randomly assigned to either usual care or an intervention arm, in which an intensive program was used to optimize prescription rates and long-term adherence. Follow-up was 19 months.
A total of 2643 patients were randomly assigned in the study; 1342 patients were assigned to usual care and 1301 patients were assigned to the intervention arm. Prescription rates were near optimal except for lipid-lowering medications. Rehospitalization rates per 100 patients were 136.2 and 132.6 over 19 months in the usual care and intervention groups, respectively (P=0.59). Total days in hospital per patient were similar (10.9 days in the usual care group versus 10.2 days in the intervention group; P not significant). Crude mortality was 6.2% and 5.5% in the usual care and intervention groups, respectively, with no significant difference (P=0.15) in overall survival. Post hoc analysis suggested that after the study team became experienced, days in hospital per patient were reduced by the program (11.1±0.91 and 8.9±0.61 in the usual care and intervention groups, respectively; P<0.05).
The intervention program failed to improve outcomes in the present study. One explanation for these results is the near optimal physician compliance with guidelines in both groups. It is also possible that a substantial learning curve for the staff was involved, as suggested by the reduction in total days in hospital in the intervention patients during the second part of the study.