Racial differences in persistence to secondary prevention medication regimens after ischemic stroke

Orla C. Sheehan, Mandip S. Dhamoon, Janet Prvu Bettger, Jin Huang, Chelsea Liu, J. David Rhodes, Olivio J. Clay, David L. Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Prior stroke is one of the biggest risk factors for future stroke events. Effective secondary prevention medication regimens can dramatically reduce recurrent stroke risk. Guidelines recommend the use of antithrombotic, antihypertensive and lipid-lowering medications after stroke. Medication adherence is known to be better in the presence of a caregiver but long-term adherence after stroke is unknown and disparities may persist. Methods: We examined the effects of race and sex on baseline prescription and maintenance of secondary prevention regimens in the presence of a caregiver using the Caring for Adults Recovering from the Effects of Stroke (CARES) study, an ancillary study of the national REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS). Results: Incident ischemic stroke survivors (N = 172; 36% Black) with family caregivers had medications recorded at hospital discharge and on average 9.8 months later during a home visit. At discharge, antithrombotic prescription (95.9%), lipid-lowering medications (78.8%) and antihypertensives (89.9%) were common and there were no race or sex differences in discharge prescription rates. One year later, medication persistence had fallen to 86.6% for antithrombotics (p = 0.002) and 69.8% for lipid lowering (p = 0.008) but increased to 93.0% for antihypertensives (p = 0.30). Blacks were more likely to have discontinued antithrombotics than Whites (18.3% v 7.7%, p = 0.04). No significant differences in persistence were seen with age, sex, income, depression, or cognitive impairment. Conclusions: Medication persistence was high in this sample, likely due to the presence of a caregiver. In our cohort, despite similar prescription rates at the time of hospital discharge, Black stroke survivors were more than twice as likely to stop antithrombotics than Whites. The effect of changes in patterns of medication usage on health outcomes in Black stroke survivors warrants continued investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1671-1683
Number of pages13
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022


  • Medication adherence
  • healthcare disparities
  • secondary prevention
  • stroke


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