Millions of Americans may have been issued wrong prescriptions for drugs to prevent heart attacks and strokes, according to a study led by scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
There are numerous heart attack risk factors, and apparently, wrong prescriptions should be added to that list. Here is what the new research discovered, and what you should do if you think you are affected by the problem.
Wrong Prescriptions Issued To Millions of Americans
More than 11 million Americans may have been given inaccurate prescriptions for drugs to prevent heart attacks and strokes, including aspirin, statins, and blood pressure medication, according to the findings of new research. The study, led by Stanford University School of Medicine's Dr. Sanjay Basu, investigated the reliability of pooled cohort equations.
Physicians across the United States decide whether to prescribe aspirin, statins, and blood pressure medication based on PCEs, which estimates the risk of heart attacks or strokes for patients. However, there have been recent concerns that the data used by PCEs are outdated.
Basu's team identified two major issues with PCEs. The first problem is that the data that was used to derive the equations need to be updated. Some of the datasets used by PCEs are relatively old, such as one dataset that included information from patients who were 30 years old to 62 years old in 1948. Various factors, such as health risks, lifestyle, and diet have significantly changed since then. According to Basu, because of the outdated information, the risks of patients were being estimated at about 20 percent higher than they should.
The second problem is the lack of African-Americans in the datasets. With recent findings that the African-American population is more prone to heart attacks and strokes, the PCEs may have given people false reassurance. This means that African-Americans who have been previously checked by doctors and not prescribed heart medicine might have to start treatment.
Wrong Prescription For Heart Medicine: What Should You Do?
The researchers have added new datasets to improve the accuracy of PCEs, with the data maintained by the National Institutes of Health. Basu's team also had to update some of outdated statistical methods behind the PCEs.
With the outdated datasets, PCEs may have calculated dangerously high doses for heart medicine for white Americans and ineffectively low doses for African-Americans. Needless to say, prescribed drugs to prevent heart attacks and strokes will not be effective if taken at inappropriate dosages.
People who are required to take heart medicine should schedule a visit with their doctor to have their prescriptions checked. Make sure that the tool the doctor will use to calculate PCEs is already using the updated datasets to get an appropriate prescription for heart medicine.