Managing Chronic Heart Disease: Tips for Patients

By James E. Calvin, MD

Over the last three decades, the management of acute heart disease such as heart attack has come a long way. When I graduated from high school, the mortality rate for a heart attack was in excess of 30 percent. By current statistics, the mortality rate for a ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (the kind we rush to the cath lab in order to place a stent) is 5 to 7 percent, and for the less severe form, so called non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, this mortality is now less than 4 percent.

However, the emergence of chronic heart failure, chronic arrhythmias and lifelong prevention of coronary disease really requires a sustaining partnership between a proactive physician and a well-informed and motivated patient.

A recent study that I presented at an international meeting determined that patients were receiving appropriate recommended therapies for heart failure and taking them as directed only a third of the time. This observation is a stark reality that points out the need to not only enhance physician clinical decision-making but also patient education.

Why Some Patients Don’t Take Medication

Why might patients not take the medication that they have been prescribed? There appear to be lots of reasons. One important reason is the patient’s knowledge about why the medications are important and how they improve patient’s symptoms is not adequate. Continue reading