A breakthrough study has revealed that majority of heart patients are not receiving drugs known as beta blockers, which increase their survival prospects, in required quantity.
For nearly 40 years, these drugs have been proven to increase patients' survival prospects following a heart attack by decreasing the cardiac workload and oxygen demand on the heart.
"Only 46 percent of patients studied were taking 50% or more of the target dose of beta blockers shown to be beneficial in clinical trials. Furthermore, 76% of patients were still being treated with the same amount of medication given at discharge. This means that for the vast majority of patients, there wasn't even an attempt to increase their dose," said Jeffrey J. Goldberger, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
"Beta blockers work to keep patients alive after a heart attack, so proper dosing of beta blockers can save many lives," he added.
Study participants were prescribed very low doses at discharge, in part to assess how their bodies were likely to react to the drug. Researchers then followed up with patients three weeks later to determine if their personal physicians had adjusted the dosage amount.
"One of the reasons for the low dosage at discharge from the hospital can be attributed to patients' shorter length of hospital stay. Better communication between patients and their personal physicians would help ensure patients are receiving the appropriate dose of beta blockers more quickly, " the professor further explained.
The study has been published in the American Heart Journal.