This study aimed to provide information about the clinical and physiochemical effects of pill splitting training in elderly cardiac patients in Hong Kong.
A parallel study design was adopted. Patients taking lisinopril, amlodipine, simvastatin, metformin, or perindopril who needed to split pills were recruited from the Prince of Wales Hospital. Patients were divided into two groups at their first visit. Patients in group A split drugs using their own technique, whereas patients in group B used pill cutters after relevant training until their next follow-up visit. The primary outcome was the change in drug content between before and after the pill splitting training. Assays were performed to determine the drug content. Secondary outcomes were the changes in clinical outcomes, patients’ attitudes and acceptance towards pill splitting, and patients’ knowledge about pill splitting.
A total of 193 patients were recruited, and 101 returned for the follow-up visit. The percentage of split tablets falling within the assay limits increased from 39.13% to 47.82% (P=0.523) in group A and from 48.94% to 51.06% (P=1.000) in group B. The changes did not reach statistical significance. As for clinical outcomes, the mean triglyceride level decreased from 1.62±1.05 to 1.36±0.80 (P=0.049), whereas the mean heart rate increased significantly from 73.97±11.01 to 77.92±12.72 (P=0.026). Changes in other parameters were not significant.
This study highlights the high variability of drug content after pill splitting. Pills with dosages that do not require splitting would be preferable, considering patients’ preference. Patients should be educated to use pill cutters properly if pill splitting is unavoidable.