Recent Approaches to Improve Medication Adherence in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease: Progress Towards a Learning Healthcare System

  • Andrew E. Levy
  • Carrie Huang
  • Allen Huang
  • P. Michael Ho
Coronary Heart Disease (S. Virani and S. Naderi, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Coronary Heart Disease


Purpose of Review

Non-adherence to medications for the secondary prevention of myocardial infarction (MI) is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in these patients. This review describes recent advances in promoting adherence to therapies for coronary artery disease (CAD).

Recent Findings

Two large randomized controlled trials to “incentivize” adherence were somewhat disappointing; neither financial incentives nor “peer pressure” successfully increased rates of adherence in the post-MI population. Patient education and provider engagement appear to be critical aspects of improving adherence to CAD therapies, where the provider is a physician, pharmacist, or nurse and follow-up is performed in person or by telephone. Fixed-dose combinations of CAD medications, formulated as a so-called “polypill,” have shown some early efficacy in increasing adherence. Technological advances that automate monitoring and/or encouragement of adherence are promising but seem universally dependent on patient engagement. For example, medication reminders via text message perform better if patients are required to respond. Multifaceted interventions, in which these and other interventions are combined together, appear to be most effective.


There are several available types of proven interventions through which providers, and the health system at large, can advance patient adherence to CAD therapies. No single intervention to promote adherence will be successful in all patients. Further study of multifaceted interventions and the interactions between different interventions will be important to advancing the field. The goal is a learning healthcare system in which a network of interventions responds and adapts to patients’ needs over time.


Coronary heart disease Secondary prevention Medication adherence Patient education Learning healthcare system 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Carrie Huang and Allen Huang declare no conflict of interest. Andrew Levy reports grants from National Institutes of Health (T32 Training Grant 5T32-HL-007822-19) during the conduct of the study. Michael Ho reports personal fees from Janssen, outside of this submitted work.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew E. Levy
    • 1
  • Carrie Huang
    • 2
  • Allen Huang
    • 2
  • P. Michael Ho
    • 3
  1. 1.AuroraUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Denver VA Medical CenterDenverUSA

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