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Medicare Patients With High Blood Don’t Take Meds Correctly

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A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that close to half of Medicare patients with high blood pressure are not taking their medications correctly, resulting in an increased risk for multiple health complications.

In a new study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on September 13, the CDC states that around 5 million people over the age of 65 do not manage their high blood pressure properly.

It poses a problem as it raises risks for kidney disease, stroke, heart disease and in the worst case, premature death.

Matthew Ritchey of the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and a team of researchers report that around 70% of American adults 65 years old and up have high blood pressure, US News and World Report states.

The researchers likewise found that 26.3% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries – totaling 4.9 million people – don’t follow a medication regimen, which in turn could lead to hypertension and related health problems. In addition, the number of individuals who don’t take regular medications is higher among ethnic and racial groups like Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

Among states and US territories, people in the Southern USA, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico had the highest rate of people who do not take their drugs as prescribed.

Multiple factors might be contribute to the increased blood pressure among patients in this age group, the researchers report. But “persons who are adherent to their antihypertensives are 45 [percent] more likely to achieve blood pressure control and have up to a 38 [percent] decreased risk for having a cardiovascular event compared with persons who are nonadherent.”

The study did not delve deeper into the possible reasons why people don’t take their medicines routinely, but researchers have come up with possible causes such as concerns over side effects or the complexity of some treatment regimens that deter patients.

Tom Frieden, CDC director, called the findings troubling and adds that a lot of patients labor under the misconception that their blood pressure is normal as they don’t experience any symptoms.

Frieden says hypertension is considered a silent killer for a reason. Many patients who have high blood pressure don’t feel it until a stroke or heart attack occurs.

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