Impact of multiple cardiovascular medications on mortality after an incidence of ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack

Tian-Tian Ma, Ian C. K. Wong, Cate Whittlesea, Kenneth K. C. Man, Wallis Lau, Zixuan Wang, Ruth Brauer, Thomas M. MacDonald, Isla S. Mackenzie, Li Wei (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Background: To manage the risk factors and to improve clinical outcomes, patients with stroke commonly receive multiple cardiovascular medications. However, there is a lack of evidence on the optimum combination of medication therapy in the primary care setting after ischemic stroke. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the effect of multiple cardiovascular medications on long-term survival after an incident stroke event (ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)).

Methods: This study consisted of 52,619 patients aged 45 and above with an incident stroke event between 2007 and 2016 in The Health Improvement Network database. We estimated the risk of all-cause mortality in patients with multiple cardiovascular medications versus monotherapy using a marginal structural model.

Results: During an average follow-up of 3.6 years, there were 9230 deaths (7635 in multiple cardiovascular medication groups and 1595 in the monotherapy group). Compared with patients prescribed monotherapy only, the HRs of mortality were 0.82 (95% CI 0.75-0.89) for two medications, 0.65 (0.59-0.70) for three medications, 0.61 (0.56-0.67) for four medications, 0.60 (0.54-0.66) for five medications and 0.66 (0.59-0.74) for ≥ six medications. Patients with any four classes of antiplatelet agents (APAs), lipid-regulating medications (LRMs), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs)/angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta-blockers, diuretics and calcium channel blockers (CCBs) had the lowest risk of mortality (HR 0.51, 95% CI 0.46-0.57) versus any one class. The combination containing APAs, LRMs, ACEIs/ARBs and CCBs was associated with a 61% (95% CI 53-68%) lower risk of mortality compared with APAs alone.

Conclusion: Our results suggested that combination therapy of four or five cardiovascular medications may be optimal to improve long-term survival after incident ischemic stroke or TIA. APAs, LRMs, ACEIs/ARBs and CCBs were the optimal constituents of combination therapy in the present study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


  • Stroke
  • Combination drug therapy
  • Mortality
  • Cohort study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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