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Racial differences in adherence to cardiac medications.

Charles H, Good CB, Hanusa BH, Chang CC, Whittle J. Racial differences in adherence to cardiac medications. Journal of the National Medical Association. 2003 Jan 1; 95(1):17-27.

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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether there are racial differences in adherence to cardiac medications. DESIGN: Retrospective analysis. PATIENTS: African-American and white male veterans aged 45 years or older who had received any of four groups of drugs: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), beta-blockers (BBs), calcium channel blockers (CCBs,) or HMG CoA (hydroxymethyl glutaryl coenzyme A) reductase inhibitors (statins). DATA: Administrative records were used to identify eligible veterans and their demographic characteristics, medical diagnoses, and medication use. We used a standard measure of adherence to medications based on whether the veteran obtained enough drug to take it as prescribed on 80% of the days. RESULTS: We identified 833 eligible African-American and 4436 eligible white veterans. In univariable analysis, African Americans were less likely to be adherent to medications than whites for ACEIs (81.4% versus 87.6%, P = 0.004), CCBs (75.3% versus 81.7%, P = 0.003), and statins (59.9% versus 74.1%, P < 0.001) but not BBs (84.8% versus 83.5%, P = 0.6). In multivariable analysis, racial differences in adherence to medications were found primarily among veterans younger than 55 years old. CONCLUSIONS: Younger African Americans were less adherent to medications than whites in a setting where financial barriers are minimized. Although the reason for this finding is unclear, it may contribute to high cardiovascular morbidity among African Americans.

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