Study Reviews Medication Use In Elderly Cardiac Patients After Discharge

Hershey, Pa. --- Researchers recently found that hospitalized cardiac patients experience a great deal of fluctuation in adjusting to their medications. According to a study conducted at the Hershey Medical Center, while all the patients ended up at approximately the same levels of recovery after five months, researchers found getting to that point was a very different pattern for some.

Readmission rates among hospitalized cardiac patients are among the highest for any group of health care users. When elderly cardiac patients are discharged, they can expect to have a wide variety of recovery patterns.

"There are often unmet needs when it comes to medications. The dosage or type of medication often needs to be modified and pain control is frequently an issue," says Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing and biobehavioral health at Penn State's College of Health and Human Development. "And, more than 50 percent of the patients in this survey went home with at least 10 different medications. When that many different medicines are involved, patients need to be aware of drug reactions and side effects."

She adds, "You need to ask your physician a lot of questions and have a routine for taking your medications so you know you are on a proper schedule. There are many things that can go wrong for cardiac patients when so many medications are involved."

Another aspect of the study found that urban residents received significantly more medications and had more changes in their drug regimen throughout the five-month study period than their rural counterparts. Urban residents were also discharged earlier, which may be because they have easier access to follow-up care.

Dellasega theorizes that this may be because urban residents are accustomed to getting care in a more formal hospital setting and get more follow-up treatment. She says often rural residents have less follow-up care and rely on famil

Contact: Leilyn Perri
Penn State

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