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Medication persistence tools for atrial fibrillation

University of Sydney

  • Cardiovascular Early-Mid Career Researcher Grant
Date Funded:
  • 18 November, 2021
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Nicole Lowres

Project Summary

Digital tools for general practitioners and patients to improve long-term taking of stroke prevention medications in people with atrial fibrillation (AF).

What is the issue for NSW?

AF affects more than 500,000 Australians. It causes an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to blood clots in the heart, and is responsible for 1 in 3 strokes. The risk of having a stroke can be reduced by 64% if appropriate medications are prescribed and are taken long-term (persistence). However, about 50% of people stop taking these medications within 2-years, leaving them at high risk of stroke. Stroke prevention will not occur if patients do not take their medications long-term.

Many people discontinue these medications because they feel no better, may notice bruising or minor bleeding, or feel ‘cured’ as they commonly have no symptoms. To improve long-term persistence with stroke-prevention medications, individual patient factors need to be carefully reviewed and addressed. Guidelines suggest 3-monthly oral anticoagulant (OAC) medication reviews result in higher medication persistence, but there is limited research to guide interventions to improve persistence, and no research involving Australian populations.

What does the research aim to do and how?

This project will develop and test electronic tools that support regular and structured review of medication taking. General practitioner (GP) tools will integrate with practice software and fit within the current workflow, supporting structured and regular review of patient-factors affecting medication persistence. Patient tools will provide education and empower self-management. This research will assess if these tools can engage GPs and patients and lead to increased long-term persistence with stroke prevention therapies. The net result will be a reduction in the financial costs and societal suffering from severe and disabling strokes related to AF.