Elderly patients with heart failure who see a pharmacist once a week are more likely to take their tablets and be active in daily life, according to new research presented at Heart Failure 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

“Adhering to a complex medication regimen is a huge challenge for elderly patients with heart failure,” said Martin Schulz, one of the study’s authors. “It is estimated that 30% to 50% of patients in Europe are non-adherent to heart failure medications, which results in increased frequency and severity of symptoms such as breathlessness, worsening heart failure and consequent hospitalisations, and higher mortality.”

Non-adherence includes failing to collect a prescription, taking a lower dose than prescribed, taking breaks or completely stopping medication.

The research involved 237 chronic heart failure patients aged 60 years and older, who were randomly allocated to usual care or a pharmacy intervention and followed-up for a median of two years. The average age was 74 years, 62% were male, and the median number of different drugs taken was nine.

Compared to usual care, the intervention resulted in an almost 6% increase in collection. The researchers also calculated the proportion of patients who collected the three drugs at least 80% of the days under study compared to baseline. Patients in the pharmacy group were three times more likely to become adherent compared to the usual care group.

After two years, improvement in quality of life was improved compared to the usual care group at both one and two year follow up. Patients in the pharmacy group were less restricted in their daily activities and has fewer worries about their disease.