pillsHave you been taking your blood pressure medication correctly?

A new U.S. Study found over 5 million Medicare prescription enrollees incorrectly taking their blood pressure medication.

The U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention analyzed over 18.5 million people enrolled in Medicare Part D and found 26% skipping their blood pressure medication or stopping them entirely.

According to CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, “That’s particularly troubling because other research indicates that up to 25 percent of new prescriptions for blood pressure medicine are never even filled in the first place.” He added, “Of those prescribed those regimens, maybe a quarter don’t even start them, and now we’re finding that another quarter doesn’t continue them.”

In the U.S., 800,000 people die of stroke or heart disease showing that this issue is severely alarming. Uncontrolled high blood pressure also links to mental decline and dementia later in older stages of life.

Frieden said healthy lifestyle changes could help, but this change in habits don’t always bring blood pressure down to the safe level. He said, “Critically, medications will be necessary for the vast majority of people with high blood pressure, but they only work if they are taken.”

He also noted that residents in the south, or “Stroke Belt,” had the highest percentage of individuals who didn’t drink their medication correctly.

Lead researcher, Matthew Richey, said, “This is another call to action for this part of the country, knowing that they are typically at higher risk of having strokes and heart attacks,” He is also an epidemiologist with the CDC’s division of cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention.

The scientists found individuals from the lower-income bracket to be less likely to take their medication. They found 32% of low-income people not following the program.

With this information, Frieden hopes to encourage insurers to give more premiums or reduce the costs of blood pressure medications. He added, “We have repeatedly learned that any [added payments] will reduce drug use, even among those who don’t have substantial financial constraints.”

He also hopes to talk to doctors about improving health systems to encourage people to take their medication regimens seriously. With easy-to-follow regimens, the doctors should be able to check on their patients to see if they’re taking their drugs properly.

Are you taking your blood pressure medication correctly? By now, you should know how important this is to your health.

Spread the word and help others by telling them to take their medications correctly!