Public Release: 

Elderly heart attack survivors rarely filled prescription smoking cessation medications

Poster: S2110 - Session: LF.APS.P48

American Heart Association

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 13, 2016 -- Elderly smokers who were discharged from the hospital after having a heart attack rarely filled prescriptions for medications that might help them quit smoking, despite being counseled about the need to quit during their hospital stay, according to a preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016.

Researchers studied nearly 2,400 heart attack survivors, who were older than 65 and current or recent smokers, at 377 U.S. hospitals.

They found:

  • While 96 percent received smoking cessation counseling before discharge, only 9.8 percent filled a prescription for the smoking cessation medications bupropion or varenicline within 90 days after discharge.

  • Only 13 percent filled a prescription for these medications within one year after being hospitalized for heart attack.

  • Whites and women were more likely to use smoking cessation drugs within 90 days after hospitalization for a heart attack.

Being older and having had a previous procedure to increase blood flow to the heart were factors that made it less likely that patients would use bupropion or varenicline within 90 days after being discharged from the hospital for a heart attack.

There remains a great deal of room for improvement in intensifying smoking cessation interventions during and after a patient's hospital stay for a heart attack, researchers said.

Neha J. Pagidipati, M.D., M.P.H., Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at


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