Although a target of 80% medication adherence is commonly cited, it is unclear whether greater adherence improves survival after stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). We investigated associations between medication adherence during the first year postdischarge, and mortality up to 3 years, to provide evidence-based targets for medication adherence.

Retrospective cohort study of 1-year survivors of first-ever stroke or TIA, aged ≥18 years, from the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry (July 2010–June 2014) linked with nationwide prescription refill and mortality data (until August 2017). Adherence to antihypertensive agents, statins, and nonaspirin antithrombotic medications was based on the proportion of days covered from discharge until 1 year. Cox regression with restricted cubic splines was used to investigate nonlinear relationships between medication adherence and all-cause mortality (to 3 years postdischarge). Models were adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic position, stroke factors, primary care factors, and concomitant medication use.

Among 8363 one-year survivors of first-ever stroke or TIA (44% aged ≥75 years, 44% female, 18% TIA), 75% were supplied antihypertensive agents. In patients without intracerebral hemorrhage (N=7446), 84% were supplied statins, and 65% were supplied nonaspirin antithrombotic medications. Median adherence was ≈90% for each medication group. Between 1% and 100% adherence, greater adherence to statins or antihypertensive agents, but not nonaspirin antithrombotic agents, was associated with improved survival. When restricted to linear regions above 60% adherence, each 10% increase in adherence was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality of 13% for antihypertensive agents (hazard ratio, 0.87 [95% CI, 0.81–0.95]), 13% for statins (hazard ratio, 0.87 [95% CI, 0.80–0.95]), and 15% for nonaspirin antithrombotic agents (hazard ratio, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.79–0.93]).

Greater levels of medication adherence after stroke or TIA are associated with improved survival, even among patients with near-perfect adherence. Interventions to improve medication adherence are needed to maximize survival poststroke.