Phone app boosts adherence to CV meds after heart attack

A smartphone app introduced at the 45th Argentine Congress of Cardiology (SAC 2019) this week in Buenos Aires improved heart patients’ adherence to their drug regimen after a CV event.

The app was designed to solve a common problem in cardiology—pill adherence. Patients are typically prescribed medicines like beta-blockers, anticoagulants and ACE inhibitors after a heart attack, but one in four people discontinue at least one drug within 30 days of their index hospitalization.

Cristian M. Garmendia, of the Cardiovascular Institute of Buenos Aires, and colleagues recruited 90 recent MI patients for their study, randomizing them to either standard protocol (detailed written instructions) or the smartphone app to remind them to take their pills. Patients assigned to the smartphone group had their prescribed medication schedules uploaded to the app, which would sound an alarm any time a pill should be taken. Participants could confirm they took the pill in the app, and their physician could double-check adherence using a platform linked to the patient’s phone.

“We hypothesized that the app would increase adherence by 30%, but the impact was even greater,” Garmendia said in a release. “Patients using the app were alerted to take their pills. They also had better knowledge about why they had been prescribed each medication and could check compliance with their doctor.”

Garmendia and his team measured adherence to treatment at 90 days using the Morisky Medical Adherence Scale (MMAS-8). At three months, significantly more patients in the smartphone group were taking their pills as directed (65%) compared to patients randomized to standard care (21%).

“Non-adherence to medication is a determining factor in the course of cardiovascular disease, so a strategy that increases adherence to essential medicines plays a relevant role,” Maria Ines Sosa Liprandi, the scientific program coordinator for SAC, said in the release. “In this study the implementation of an innovative technology enabled patients to improve adherence to essential drugs. Mobile health technology is scalable and could open windows with an infinite horizon of possibilities.”