Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) are less likely to be discharged from the hospital with a prescription for an ACE inhibitor and other recommended medications if they are treated by a non-cardiologist, according to a study written by pharmacists at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and published January 15 in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. Beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and aldosterone antagonists have been shown to significantly decrease morbidity and mortality and are among the medications recommended by the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) to treat CHF, which affects nearly 5 million Americans.
Prescribing differences were demonstrated for several key medications, including:
The study also found that cardiologists are more likely to admit a CHF patient to the Intensive Care Unit and order diagnostic tests, including chest x-rays, electrocardiograms, nuclear medicine tests, cardiac catheterizations, and stress tests, without significantly increasing a patients length of stay.
Study authors urge patients to take an active role in their treatment and ask about available medications. "Furthermore, patients or their family members should ask to speak to the hospital pharmacist whenever they have questions about their medicine," explains Jean A. Patel, Pharm. D., clinical pharmacist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and lead author of the study.
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