Some stroke survivors say they are disregarding GP advice on secondary prevention medications, such as statins, with some patients stopping their medication completely after only one or two consultations.
The research, which comes from a study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), found that a number of patients chose to ignore their doctors’ suggestions because they experienced side effects such as anxiety and resentment.
They also felt that their concerns were being dismissed by GPs, particularly when it came to these side effects brought on by statins.
Researchers said that GPs should make patients aware of multiple treatment options and the potential need for several changes in medication, and actively follow-up with their patients when providing advice or changing treatment due to side effects.
Lead Researcher and NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer Dr Anna De Simoni from QMUL said: “I am a GP and these findings have changed my own practice when I start patients on statins and when they consult about side effects.
“Given the variety of cholesterol lowering treatments and possible approaches to manage statin intolerant patients, I was surprised to see that patients seemingly lost hope after only one or two contacts with their GPs, unaware that a better regimen may have been available or that their GP would have been able to carry out another change in medication.
“In my practice I am now advising patients that multiple treatment options are available, and several attempts may be required before a suitable treatment is found.
“It is also important to pro-actively invite them to seek help if side effects are experienced and don’t improve.”
Three in ten stroke survivors will go on to have a further stroke, which causes greater disability or even death. Secondary prevention medications, including antihypertensives, blood thinning and lipid lowering agents – such as statins – can reduce the risk of stroke recurrence by up to 75 per cent.
However, the study, which was conducted via an online forum, showed that things are not as simple as that and underlined the central role of GPs in managing medications. It also highlighted the usefulness of using online forums as a method of research, particularly given that they are inexpensive, simple and wide-reaching.