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Taking Your Medications as Directed

It is estimated that three out of four Americans do not take their medication as directed.

Taking medication correctly may seem like a simple or personal matter, but non-adherence (or not taking medication as directed) is a complicated and common problem. People do not realize the real damage or consequences of non-adherence. When patients with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease do not take medication as directed, the repercussions can be severe. For instance, not keeping blood pressure in check can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

In sum, poor medication adherence takes the lives of 125,000 Americans annually.


There are many reasons why people are not able to take their medication as directed.

  1. They may forget.

  2. They may not be convinced of the medication’s effectiveness or be unsure that it is working.

  3. They may fear the side effects or have difficulty taking the medication (especially with injections or inhalers).

  4. And we all know that the rising cost of prescription medications is a barrier for many.

Some may face a combination of these reasons for not taking their medications. One person may face different barriers at different times as he or she manages his or her condition. Whatever the reason, you could miss out on potential benefits, quality of life improvements, and could lose protection against future illness or serious health complications.

Taking your medication as directed gives you the best opportunity to manage your chronic condition and maintain the best possible health for yourself. One of the best ways to meet your goal is to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you are taking.

Your trusted health care professional can provide you with tips on how to manage your medications, including what to do if you miss a dose, if you can take them with other medications or vitamins, foods to avoid, and any possible side effects and interactions.

Establishing a strong relationship with your doctor or pharmacist can create an open environment where you feel comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns about a medication. Having a conversation with your doctor about how your medication impacts your chronic condition is crucial to managing your condition and taking back your health.

Remember, if you don’t take your medication as directed, you could be putting your present and future health at risk.

Source: American Heart Association


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