Does Aspirin Prescribing Prevent Hospitalizations for Stroke?

October 27, 2016

Liu Z. et al. 2016: Using Large‐Scale Linkage Data to Evaluate the Effectiveness of a National Educational Program on Antithrombotic Prescribing and Associated Stroke Prevention in Primary Care

A stethoscope and a pill bottle, with various pills in the foreground and a chalkboard that says the word 'stroke'Stroke is the leading cause of disability among adults in Australia, resulting in a significant burden on the health system and society. Aspirin provides effective ischemic stroke prevention in select patients. Differing attitudes among practitioners toward the use of aspirin in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) suggest a need to improve prescribing practice. Studies have found significant gaps between the evidence for aspirin use and clinical practice, including insufficient risk assessment and under-prescribing.

Australia’s MedicineWise Stroke Prevention Program sought to improve aspirin prescribing in stroke prevention. This study assessed patients with a high risk of CVD to assess the possible impact of the program on first‐time aspirin prescriptions and primary stroke‐related hospitalizations.

An analysis showed that the MedicineWise program was significantly associated with increased first‐time prescribing of aspirin and decreased hospitalizations for primary ischemic stroke. Following intervention, the number of first‐time aspirin prescriptions increased by 19.8%, while the number of first‐time stroke hospitalizations decreased by 17.3%.

Researchers concluded that the program was associated with increased initiation of aspirin and a reduced rate of hospitalization for primary stroke. The findings suggest that the provision of evidence‐based, large‐scale educational programs in primary care can be effective in changing aspirin prescriber behavior and positively impacting patient health outcomes.