Poor adherence is one of the biggest obstacles in therapeutic control of high blood pressure. The objectives of this study were (i) to measure adherence to antihypertensive therapy in a representative sample of the hypertensive Pakistani population and (ii) to investigate the factors associated with adherence in the studied population.
Methods and Results
A cross-sectional study was conducted on a simple random sample of 460 patients at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) and National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Karachi, from September 2005–May 2006. Adherence was assessed using the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS), with scores ranging from 0 (non-adherent) to 4 (adherent). In addition to MMAS, patient self-reports about the number of pills taken over a prescribed period were used to estimate adherence as a percentage. AKU Anxiety and Depression Scale (AKU-ADS) was incorporated to find any association between depression and adherence. At a cut-off value of 80%, 77% of the cases were adherent. Upon univariate analyses, increasing age, better awareness and increasing number of pills prescribed significantly improved adherence, while depression showed no association. Significant associations, upon multivariate analyses, included number of drugs that a patient was taking (P<0.02) and whether he/she was taking medication regularly or only for symptomatic relief (P<0.00001).
Similar to what has been reported worldwide, younger age, poor awareness, and symptomatic treatment adversely affected adherence to antihypertensive medication in our population. In contrast, monotherapy reduced adherence, whereas psychosocial factors such as depression showed no association. These findings may be used to identify the subset of population at risk of low adherence who should be targeted for interventions to achieve better blood pressure control and hence prevent complications.