Millions of Americans use blood pressure meds by the ear. Almost 5 million Medicare patients do not take their blood pressure drugs as told, and this increases their heart attack or stroke risk – according to a US study.
A detailed look at 18.5 million Medicare patients in 2014 found that 26 percent of them skipped doses of the drugs or stopped taking the medication completely. The study was done by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is bad news, because previous research has shown that a quarter of people don’t start taking blood pressure medication once they receive prescriptions and another quarter do not continue taking them.
The death toll for heart disease and stroke is 800,000 people per year. Every one in three deaths has to do with stroke or heart disease. Blood pressure that remains untreated can lead to dementia and mental decline in later years, according to CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden.
Lifestyles that are healthy for the heart, which includes eating right and exercising often do make a difference. But they’re not enough to treat blood pressure for many sufferers, notes Frieden.
The percentage of those who don’t take the drugs as prescribed is one-third of Hispanics, Blacks and American-Indians compared to one-quarter of Whites or Asian/Pacific Islanders.
American citizens who live in the South, which is also known as “the Stroke belt” have the highest rates of giving up medication across the United States.
Income Is a factor that makes the difference between those who take their medication as prescribed and those who skip doses or abandon the treatment entirely.
People with low incomes are less likely to stay on their course of treatment, as advised by a doctor. Around 32 percent of people with low incomes do not take their regimen, compared to one-quarter of those who do not receive low-income allowance – according to researchers.
Taking this into consideration, insurers should eliminate or reduce copays on blood pressure meds. Doctors are also encouraged to help patients by putting them on an easy-to-follow course of treatment.
Frieden’s conclusion is that medicines that control blood pressure are essential and can save your life. This is why it is important to take them as prescribed.
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