Newswise — COLUMBIA, Mo. – Poor adherence to medication regimens is a common problem among patients with cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart failure. Poor adherence is one reason mortality rates among those patients remain high. Todd Ruppar, associate professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri, has found that a variety of interventions aimed at increasing medication adherence can help people with cardiovascular disease avoid the hospital. Ruppar will address the barriers to medication adherence during the Public Health Grand Rounds offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Atlanta.

“Medication is a critical part of cardiovascular disease treatment, and adhering to medication instructions is essential in patient self-care,” Ruppar said. “Unfortunately, many patients don’t take their medications as prescribed, which increases their risk for heart attack, stroke, or worsening of heart failure symptoms that will impair physical function, and lead to a higher risk for hospital visits and death.”

Ruppar’s research examines different medication interventions for adults with cardiovascular disease. Different interventions include education and telephone monitoring, interventions designed to link medication-taking with daily habits and routines, video-based patient education, post-discharge home visits, computer-based programs, and medication diaries.

“Affordability, a lack of understanding the importance of medication and side effects are some of the reasons patients don’t take their medications as directed,” Ruppar said. “The reasons will differ for each patient, so knowing that we have a set of interventions that work will help health care providers and patients improve medication adherence, leading to better outcomes for the patient.”

The Public Health Grand Rounds is a monthly presentation series offered by the CDC. Each session focuses on the particular challenges related to a specific health topic. In addition to highlighting what the CDC already is doing to address these public health challenges, experts in chosen fields explore cutting-edge research, present new evidence, and discuss the potential impact of different interventions. Those interested in watching Ruppar and other speakers discuss research and tools that may help overcome barriers to medication adherence can stream the event on CDC’s Facebook page at 1 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Feb. 21. The presentation will also be archived and available on the CDC Public Health Grand Rounds website.

Ruppar also serves as the associate director at the MU Meta-Analysis Research Center. His research focuses on the self-management of chronic illness in older adults and adherence to medication regimens. His recent study, “Medication adherence interventions improve heart failure mortality and readmission rates: systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials,” was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Editor’s Note:

Throughout the month of February, the University of Missouri will be sharing several stories focused on heart health in observance of American Heart Month. For more event information and heart healthy tips, please visit: